Melanie Lawson, Founder of Bare Biology Omega 3, talks to Baby London about your baby’s brain development.
During pregnancy, women are advised to make sure they have enough Omega 3 in their diet, but most don’t know why. In a nutshell, DHA (a type of Omega 3) is essential for the proper growth and development of babies’ eyes and brains.
Our brains are 60% fat and around 20% should be made of Omega 3 fatty acids. During pregnancy and infancy, an insufficient intake of DHA has been shown in many studies to greatly impact the development of babies’ brains. Research shows that babies with Omega 3/DHA deficient diets have 50% fewer synapses. A study into the diet of 12,000 pregnant women, which was published in The Lancet, found that children of those who consumed the lowest amount of Omega 3 were more likely to score in the lowest quartile on IQ tests.
During the last trimester of pregnancy (week 28 onwards) a baby’s brain grows by an astonishing 260%, so it’s crucial that the mother has adequate DHA intake during this time. The DOLAB study is one of the most quoted in recent times. It looked into the effect of Omega 3 on the behaviour, memory and reading of healthy children aged between seven and nine. After six weeks of taking a DHA supplement, the study found the children with below-average reading ability (under the 20th centile) showed significant improvements.
Confusingly, pregnant women are also advised to avoid too much fish because of the levels of mercury, especially tinned tuna, which incidentally doesn’t contain any Omega 3 contrary to popular belief. So it’s advisable for women to take a very good quality, pure supplement to reduce the risk of DHA deficiency while being safe when it comes to mercury intake.