There is no evidence to confirm that taking fish oil during pregnancy reduces the risk of post-natal depression, according to a new study from the University of Adelaide.
Professor Maria Makrides, who is Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Adelaide and Deputy Director of the Women's and Children's Health Research Institute, said that the results also contradict existing recommendations that fish oil capsules taken in pregnancy help newborn babies' language and cognitive development.
Over a five-year study wherein women were half the women in the latter stages of pregnancy were given fish oil capsules and the other half vegetable oil capsules, the team found no significant difference in either the incidence of post-natal depression or neuro developmental outcomes of their children.
"Despite the paucity of hard evidence, women are being recommended to increase their intake of fish oil fats in pregnancy and the nutritional supplement industry is successfully marketing products with fish oil, claiming they optimise brain function in both mother and infant," said Makrides.
Similarly, 700 children from the study group who were assessed for cognitive and language development at 18 months of age showed no marked differences.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.