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.
AdvertisementAccording 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 cognitive skills.
This 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 observational studies.
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 baby.
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.