All pregnant women want healthy babies, and for many, they take supplements or vitamins that they believe will improve their infant’s ultimate physical or mental health. For instance, many pregnant women believe that fish oil supplements can improve infant vision. What we’re really talking about here is DHA, the ingredient found in fish oil, an Omega 3 fatty acid involved in brain and eye development. As with any medicine (and yes supplements and herbal products are medicines), we need to ask: “Do they work”, “Do side effects exist”, and “Do the costs outweigh any drawbacks”.
In a recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Australian researchers looked at vision issues and fish oil through a randomized controlled trial in 200 four-month old babies, whose mothers had either taken fish oil capsules from mid-pregnancy until delivery or taken placebo vegetable oil pills. According to this recent study, the fish oil had no positive effect on eye health. This research actually builds upon published studies from last year that found that DHA did not impact a baby’s learning by age two.
Returning to ur previously state questions- should pregnant women be taking fish oil as a supplement? We personally do not recommend that our pregnant patients take fish oil during pregnancy. While no strong evidence states that fish oil is harmful in pregnancy, insufficient evidence of benefit exists to recommend it.