Fish oil during pregnancy increases brain function in children at age 10

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Children born to mothers who took fish oil during pregnancy have been shown to have greater problem-solving capacity and better concentration of attention at age 10, according to the results of a study presented in the 6th World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition to which Ep. This is the first study to examine the long-term effect of maternal supplementation with fish oil and / or 5-MTHF (folic acid) on the functioning of the network in the resting state (that is, the brain activity ‘at rest »When a person is not performing a cognitive or active task) of school children and was funded by the European Union.

The children were evaluated at the age of 10 years using a specialized rs-MRI brain scan to measure RSN, along with neuropsychological tests. The results of all groups were then compared for differences. Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko, Head of the Division of Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital of the University of Munich Medical Center (Germany), is one of the study authors. Koletzko states that children born to mothers who took the DHA-rich fish oil during pregnancy showed beneficial effects with faster processing speed when solving complex problems and better results in attention tests.

The results demonstrate that the quality of the mother’s nutrient supply during the period of rapid brain development in pregnancy has a lasting impact on later school-age brain function. Therefore, it considers that women before and during pregnancy should be supported to achieve a good quality diet and be counseled on the possible use of fish oil supplements.

The study coordinator and director of the EURISTIKOS Center of Excellence in Pediatric Research at the University of Granada (Spain), Professor Christina Campoy, adds that the research «provides evidence that children born to mothers who had taken fish oil during the second half of their pregnancy had better memory. Fish oil supplementation was associated with decreased functional connectivity of children’s brain networks, but this did not indicate poor cognitive neurodevelopment, rather the opposite, “he adds.

Folic acid supplementation did not lead to an appreciable change in measures of brain function. The study conducted by researchers at the University of followed 57 children of mothers from a previous research program who had received 500 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 150 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fish oils daily, with or without 400 micrograms of 5-MTHF (folic acid), folic acid alone, or placebo, during the second half of your pregnancies.

The authors emphasize that, although the sample size was small, the study had used a large number of validated techniques to test its hypothesis and the data came from a well-established cohort (a group that is being followed long-term). term). They add that the results should be interpreted as preliminary data and cannot be considered to have a general application, so further research is necessary.

Professor Magnus Domellöf, chair of the ESPGHAN Nutrition Committee, comments that the results of this study indicate that early nutrition during pregnancy can have a significant impact on children’s brain development, with the potential to improve performance. cognitive. “We hope that the results of this study will be tested in other trials.”, concludes.

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