Omega-3s benefit eyesight, immune health and more in babies and children

For pregnant women, taking omega-3s is more important than they might realize. Several new studies on omega-3s, pregnant moms, infants and young children, confirm the wide-ranging benefits of omega-3s from fish oil.

In a 12-year study, 1,770 kids whose genes or family history increased the risk for type 1 diabetes began taking omega-3s at 1 year old. After six years, kids who had higher omega-3 levels in the blood were 55% less likely to have type 1 diabetes than kids with lower omega-3 levels.

In another study of 135 moms, baby girls whose moms had taken 400 mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per day while pregnant had better eyesight at 2 months old than girls whose moms had taken a placebo. Boys and girls whose moms had a good balance between omega-6s and omega-3s had better vision than kids whose moms had higher omega-6 levels than omega-3. Doctors believe that the Western diet, which does not include enough fish, provides too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 essential fats.

Kids whose moms ate a cereal bar with 300 mg of DHA per day—29 moms starting at 24 weeks pregnant—solved problems better at 9 months old than kids whose moms had eaten a cereal bar without DHA.

Doctors measured the amount of DHA in the umbilical cord blood of over 300 newborns, then seven years later tested how well the children moved and controlled muscles. They found that kids born with higher DHA levels performed better than kids born with lower DHA levels.

Kids—64 of them—who took infant formula with fish oil for three months beginning at 9 months old had more mature immune systems than kids who had taken cow’s milk or infant formula without fish oil.

Mothers—495 of them who had premature babies in the past—were less likely to do so again after taking 2.7 grams of omega-3s per day, starting at 20 weeks pregnant.

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