Premature babies benefit from Omega 3

March 16, 2009


Having a premature baby can be a time of great worry, and although medical knowledge has hugely increased the survival rate, there are still potential health problems for such babies that can affect how they develop. The major concern is for their mental development as they may be slower than babies that go to full term, as well as not having fully developed lungs and digestive systems.

A clinical trial in Australia however offers a simple solution that could help, and although it has only been running for 18 months they are claiming interesting results. For adults, the benefits of omega-3 are well known but so far no one has thought to see if they could also help such young babies. The Australian study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and carried out at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

They used normal omega-3 supplements from fish oil that you would buy in any health store and gave them to 272 nursing mothers of premature babies. They were trying to duplicate the amount of omega-3 that full-term babies usually receive in the womb during the third trimester of pregnancy and that premature babies miss out. They found that just 6 pills a day improved the cognitive ability of the babies when tested 18 months after birth.

Interestingly, the benefit seemed to apply solely to girls as the mothers of boys who took the supplements didn’t see any substantial difference. The doctors believe however that this is not due to a problem with the supplements but to the fact that boys generally develop slightly later than girls so a test over a longer period may show the same results. Differences are really going to persist.

BUT please don’t think that getting your omega-3′s naturally from fish and seafood during pregnancy is a precautionary measure as most doctors advise pregnant women to avoid these foods. However, it certainly couldn’t hurt to take the supplements and if it doesn’t improve the baby’s health it will certainly help the mother’s.


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