At a recent Asian conference on Pediatric Medicine, Omega Fatty Acids were strongly recommended for pregnant women as well as infants and young children.
Of particular focus is the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a major structural fat in the brain and retina of the eye. Berthold Koletzko, M.D. (Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, University of Munich) recommends that pregnant and nursing women should consume at least 200mg of DHA every day. An associated expert committee found that women with higher DHA omega-3 intakes had healthier pregnancies, including higher birth weights and fewer premature births. DHA intake was also linked with improved infant outcomes, such as enhanced brain and eye development.
Alexandre Lapillonne, M.D., Ph.D. (Saint Vincent de Paul Hospital and Paris Descartes University, Paris France) found a positive correlation between infant visual development and fatty acid intake. His research supports dietary DHA intake for breastfeeding women and the inclusion of DHA into infant formula.
"There is limited public awareness of the role of omegas in infant development," said Professor Lapillonne. "Health professionals should educate women in their care on optimal DHA intake during pregnancy, nursing and infancy, and mothers should ensure they gain the benefits of fatty acids for themselves and their infants."
Other research has found that higher blood levels of DHA were associated with higher scores on a cognitive test in these children, suggesting that higher levels of DHA should be included in the diets of children.
DHA omega-3 can be found in fatty fish and in supplements from many companies.