Children born to mothers who took fish oil during their pregnancy have been shown to have faster problem-solving skills and better attention-focusing skills by the age of 10, according to a study presented today at the 6th World Congress on Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.
This is the first study to assess the long-term effects of maternal supplementation with fish oil and / or 5-MTHF (folic ( acid) on the function of the resting state network (RSN) (that is the “resting” brain activity when a person is not engaged in a cognitive or active task) of school-age children and was funded by the European Union.
The children were examined at the age of 10 with a special rs-MRI brain scanning to measure the RSN along with neuropsychological tests. The results of all groups were then compared for differences.
Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko, head of the department for metabolic and nutritional medicine at Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, Munich University Hospital, is one of the authors of the study. Professor Koletzko says children are born to mothers who have that given-rich fish oil in pregnancy showed beneficial effects with faster processing speed in solving complex problems and better results in attention tests.
“The results show that the quality of the maternal nutrient supply during the phase of rapid early brain development in pregnancy has a lasting influence on brain function later in school age.
Therefore, before and during pregnancy, women should be supported in achieving a high-quality diet and advised on the possible use of fish oil supplements. “
Study coordinator and director of the EURISTIKOS Center of Excellence in Pediatric Research at the University of Granada, Spain, Professor Christina Campoy added: “Our research shows that children of mothers who took fish oil in the second half of pregnancy have improved memories . Fish oil supplementation was associated with decreased functional connectivity of children’s brain networks, but this did not indicate poor cognitive neurodevelopment, on the contrary. “
The supplementation with folic acid did not lead to any significant change in the measurements of the brain function.
The study, by researchers from the University of Granada, Spain, tracked 57 children born to mothers from a previous research program who were given 500 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 150 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) fish oils daily, either with or without 400 μg 5-MTHF (folic acid ), Folic acid alone, or placebo during the second half of pregnancy.
The authors emphasized that although the sample size was small, a large number of validated techniques were used to assess their hypothesis in the study and the data came from a well-established cohort (a group that is followed over the long term). They added that the results should be interpreted as preliminary data and cannot be considered general as more research is needed.
Commenting on the research, Professor Magnus Domellöf, Chair of the ESPGHAN Nutrition Committee, said: “The results of this study show that early nutrition during pregnancy can have a significant impact on brain development in children, with the potential to improve cognitive performance. We look forward to testing the results of this study in further studies. “
“Long-Term Association Between Fish Oil and / or 5-Methyl Tetrahydrofolate Supplementation During Pregnancy and Brain Resting of Offspring at Age 10” by Campoy, C., et al., Presented at the 6th World Congress on Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and nutrition.
“Effect of dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated N-3 fatty acids in pregnancy: the Nuheal study” by Tamás Decsi, Cristina Campoy and Berthold Koletzko, advances in experimental medicine and biology.
DOI: 10.1007 / 1-4020-3535-7_15
Professor Christina Campoy is Director of the EURISTIKOS Center of Excellence in Pediatric Research at the University of Granada, Spain.
The European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) is a multi-professional organization whose aim is to promote the health of children with special attention to the gastrointestinal tract, liver and nutritional status through knowledge building and dissemination of scientifically based information , promoting good practice in care and providing quality education for pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition professionals in Europe and beyond.
About the 6th virtual world congress
The virtual 6th World Congress for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition will take place from June 2nd to 5th, 2021.
The congress is jointly organized by the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and the Federation of International Societies of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (FISPGHAN). The congress, held every four years, brings together field experts from around the world to promote global collaboration and education in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition.