What are the effects and benefits of fish oils on breast milk and infant health?
Research shows there are many health benefits from the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
In fact, supplementing your diet with omega 3 fish oils during breast feeding may enhance your child's brain development, boost their immune system and help overall body development.
And studies indicate that increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish and fish oils) may also lower your risk for inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.
It's important to use a highly-refined, purified fish oil supplement that provides you high concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids and is guaranteed to have no mercury, PCB's and other contaminants.
According to the latest research, an increased dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids influences the amount of omega 3 fatty acids passed from the mother to child.
Health Benefits of Fish Oils for Infants:
Research is now showing fish oils really benefit your baby when you breastfeed.
Not only do you supply your baby with vital nutrients for growth but you're also creating that special bond of motherhood your baby needs.
For more detailed info on the benefits of breastfeeding, visit "Why You Should Choose Breastfeeding."
The following research studies look at possible relationships between intake of omega 3 fatty acids, fish oils and breast milk.
Hungary - Researchers gathered a group of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers together, noted the amount and kind of omega 3 fatty acids in their diet, and made note of any differences in their babies.
They looked at two omega 3 fatty acids in this study:
alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - a beneficial omega 3 fatty acid found in flax seed, grains, green leafy vegetables and walnuts.
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - an important fatty acid found in fatty fish and fish oils. DHA is said to be very important for your baby's brain development.
Researchers discovered mothers showing the highest levels of DHA in their diet passed this healthy fat in their breast milk to their babies.
They also found a direct link between the amount of DHA in the mother's diet and the amount of DHA in their baby.
Babies fed breast milk from mothers on a DHA-enhanced diet:
Performed better on specialized eye tests.
Achieved higher scores on brain function tests than babies not given DHA breast milk.
Did you know taking fish oils during pregnancy may turn your baby into a 'Super Baby'?
Current studies now point to how omega 3 fatty acids in a nursing mother's diet positively affect her newborn infant's development and boost their immune system.
Perth, Australia - Doctors at the School of Pediatrics conducted a study on fish oils and breast milk immune factors.
Studies show breast milk contains many important immune factors. These specialized ingredients have a positive effect on your baby's immune system and it one of the reasons why doctors recommend breast feeding over formula.
In this study, the Aussie Docs studied a group of 83 nursing mothers.
Participants took either 4 grams/day of fish oil capsules or 4 grams/day of olive oil capsules from 20 weeks gestation until delivery.
Breast milk from women taking fish oils showed:
Increased levels of the omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Lower levels of arachidonic acid (a fatty acid that can promote inflammation).
Higher levels of the Immune Factor Immunoglobulin A (IgA). People with IgA deficiency tend to have allergies or get more colds and other respiratory infections.
The group taking olive oil showed no improvement.
It appears that increasing your intake of fish oils and omega 3 fatty acids will increase the omega 3 fatty acids in breast milk. An infant feeding on this enhanced breast milk may experience an improved immune system.
How long should you take fish oils for the best health benefits for your baby? It is best to take them during your pregnancy and stop? Or should you take them continuously during your child's breast-feeding phase?
The results from this study will show you how to improve the benefits received from taking fish oils during breastfeeding.
Denmark, Sweden - Researchers in Denmark took forty-four (44) healthy pregnant women and randomly divided them into 2 groups:
One half of the fish oil group would stop taking fish oils upon delivery and the other half would continue taking them from for at least another 30 days post-partum.
Researchers found an increase of over 300% more omega 3 fats in breast milk in women taking fish oils at least 30 days post-delivery.
It appears that fish oils and breast milk is a good thing for your newborn baby's health. Not only are you giving yourself a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids; you're also passing these healthy fats to your baby.
You can get omega 3 fatty acids from eating more fatty fish. If you're worried about mercury and PCB's from eating fish, try using pharmaceutical-grade fish oils that's been certified to contain minimal levels of mercury and contaminants.
The best fish oil supplements should be tested to ensure they provide high concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids in a highly-purified state.
Research on fish oils and breast milk indicates:
Fish oils may lead to better brain development.
The use of fish oils supplements during pregnancy is something to consider if you want the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids for your baby.
Imagine the health-boosting effects you'll be passing on to your baby with fish oils and breast milk. And isn't this something every mother wants for their child?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy Outcomes Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. Fish oils and breast milk study, 2005 Mar;8(2):161-6
The Effect of Supplementation with Fish Oil During Pregnancy on Breast Milk Immunoglobulin A and Fatty acid Composition. Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation in Late Pregnancy and Early Lactation on the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content in Human Breast Milk Lipids, Fish oils and breast milk study.2004 Dec;39(12):1191-6