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Issue 69: D-H-A for M-O-M Can Spell Out Healthier Babies

It wasn’t too many years ago that a Kelton Research survey sponsored by the Society for Women’s Health Research—a Washington, D.C.-based national advocacy organization—noted that most moms-to-be and new mothers knew about the importance of folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D in their diet.

What the survey also noted, however, was that only about half of the women surveyed knew about the need for the omega-3 DHA for their baby’s healthful brain, eyes, and heart development and function.†

What’s more is that 79 percent of those surveyed could identify leafy vegetables as a folic acid source and a full 97 percent knew that dairy products provide rich sources of calcium. Surprisingly, however, about 68 percent of the women said that they were never told anything about DHA by their health professionals and 72 percent had no idea how to get DHA into their diet.

Hopefully, times are changing. Why? The truth is that DHA helps to support a healthy pregnancy for moms-to-be (and supports brain, eye, and heart health for all adults—including moms) and helps in brain and eye development and function for infants and children.†

DHA is a major structural fat in the brain and retina, accounting for up to 97 percent of the omega-3s in the brain and up to 93 percent of the omega-3s in the retina. DHA is also a key component of the heart—especially in the conducting tissue—and is shown to support heart health from infancy through adulthood.†

DHA has to be replenished continuously, however, so it is important to make sure you get enough in your diet. DHA is present in egg yolks, in fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardines as well as fish oils—and is abundant in breast milk, especially if Mom gets plenty of DHA in her diet.

Barbara Levine, R.D., Ph.D., co-director of the Human Nutrition Program at The Rockefeller University, and director of the Nutrition Information Center, The New York Hospital-Weill Medical College of Cornell University, says, “DHA is one of the four most important nutrients for pregnant and lactating women.† Expectant mothers should begin to include essential fatty acids in their diets in early pregnancy to ensure that DHA is passed on to the baby's tissues during the gestational period." †
 
"Baby's significant brain and eye development occurs during pregnancy and the first year after birth,"† Levine explains.

The bottom line is that it’s Mom who provides DHA to baby during pregnancy. After the baby is born, breast milk is the primary source of DHA, so it remains important for moms to have good levels of DHA in their own bodies.† 

Levine sums it up: "It's as simple as ABC: Mom's DHA means a multitude of health benefits for baby."†

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.


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