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“We see a clear connection between mother’s omega-3 status and the children’s ability to solve problems, and we see the same effect at the children’s level of the fatty acid when they are three months,” says researcher Maria Wik Markhus.
In a study in 32 pregnant women, the researchers measured the level of omega-3 fatty acid DHA in the blood of gestational week 28. Then they looked at the children’s ability to solve one-year tasks, using a test that their parents filled out. The higher the level of the DHA mothers, the higher the children cut the test.
In addition, the researchers measured the children’s level of DHA when they were three, six and twelve months old. Although the study is small in scale, it gives important results.
In the last trimester of pregnancy and in the first years of life, our brain undergoes tremendous growth, and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is particularly important for the development of the brain in infants.
DHA is important when the brain is to grow
DHA and EPA are both marine omega-3 fatty acids found in fat fish. In the last trimester of pregnancy and in the first years of life, our brain undergoes tremendous growth, and DHA is particularly important for the development of the brain in infants.
– The level of DHA decreases in pregnancy and in the postpartum period. It is therefore important for pregnant women to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, either via diet or fat fish or by dietary supplements, says Markhus.
The Directorate of Health recommends a daily intake of 200 milligrams of DHA for pregnant women and nursing.
Increasing curve of children with most omega-3
To measure the ability of one-year-olds to solve problems, the researchers used the form called “Ages & Stages Questionaires”. It is a parent-based tool that charts children’s development in five areas: communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving skills, and personal / social development.
The test consists of questions that parents should answer or perform with the children. Examples of questions are: “If the child holds a small toy in each hand, it knocks the toys together?”
– We saw a rising curve of the children who had the most omega-3, both as fetus and at three months, says Markhus.