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Health and Wellness

WCPGHAN 2021: Fish oil taken during pregnancy boosts problem-solving and concentration in children, new data reveals

GENEVA, /PRNewswire/ — Children born to mothers who took fish oil in their pregnancies have been shown to have faster problem-solving skills and better attention focus at age 10, according to findings from an EU funded study presented today at the 6th World Congress of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

This is the first study to examine the long-term effect of maternal supplementation with fish oil and/or 5-MTHF (folic acid) on resting state functioning – when a person is not engaged in a cognitive or active task – in school-age children.

Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko, Head of Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine at Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, University of Munich Medical Centre, Germany, one of the study’s authors, explains: ‘The results demonstrate that the quality of maternal nutrient supply during the period of rapid early brain development in pregnancy, has a lasting impact on later brain function at school age. Women before and during pregnancy should therefore be supported in achieving a good quality diet and be counselled on potential fish oil supplement use.’

Coordinator of the study and Director of the EURISTIKOS Excellence Centre for Paediatric Research at the University of Granada, Spain, Professor Christina Campoy, adds: ‘Our research provides evidence that children born to mothers who had taken fish oil during the second half of pregnancy had improved memory.

The study followed up on 57 children of mothers from a previous research programme who had been given 500mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 150mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) fish oils per day, either with or without 400 µg of 5-MTHF (folic acid), folic acid alone, or placebo, during the second half of their pregnancies.

Professor Magnus Domellöf, Chair of the ESPGHAN Nutrition Committee, commented: ‘The results from this study indicate that early nutrition during pregnancy can have a significant impact on brain development in children, with the potential to enhance cognitive performance. We look forward to the outcomes of this study being tested in further trials.’


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