Contrary to the international recommendations, a study
conducted by a University of Adelaide has found no evidence that
taking fish oil capsules during pregnancy helps reduce the risk of depression
in the post-natal period.
The above finding is supported by a five-year study
(between 2005 and 2009) led by Professor Maria Makrides.
According to Professor Makrides, the results also
contradict existing recommendations that fish oil supplements taken during
pregnancy help with the development of the newborn baby's language and
study was conducted in five Australian maternity hospitals. It included
2400 pregnant women in latter stages of pregnancy. Similarly,
700 children were also assessed for cognitive and language development at 18
months of age.
During this study, the pregnant women were divided in two
groups. One group was given fish oil capsules while the other group was given
vegetable oil capsules. However after the delivery there was no significant
difference in either the incidence of depression in the post-natal period or
the neurological developmental outcomes of their children.
Based on these results Professor Makrides has said that
recommendations to increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in pregnancy
are being made without any sound evidence.
She has stated that previous findings suggesting the
benefits of fish oil supplements and seafood during pregnancy were based on
Despite this paucity of evidence, women are being
recommended to increase the intake of fish oil during pregnancy. Also the
nutritional supplement industry is successfully marketing products with fish
oil, claiming that these capsules optimize brain function in both mother and
Therefore before omega-3 supplementation in pregnancy
becomes widespread, it is important to establish not only any benefits of fish
oil supplements, but also consider the fish oil supplement side effects to
mother or child.