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The Truth About Fish Oil Benefits And Pregnancy [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 23, 2017 12:45 PM EDT

The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) released the results of a long-term study that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fish oil supplements taken during pregnancy had no significant effect on the unborn child's development.

SAHMRI recruited 2,399 pregnant women from 2010 to 2013 to participate in the study to measure the effects of taking fish oil supplements on fetal brain development. These women were divided into two groups, with one group being given capsules containing 800 mg of DHA per day and the placebo group given just capsules filled with vegetable oil.

The child of the participant during pregnancy was assessed at three different times during the course of the study, the Los Angeles Times reported. The first test administered at 18 months to test how their motor, cognitive and language skills developed.

Another test was conducted when they reached 4 years old, which tested their executive functioning and overall intelligence. The third and latest test was conducted as the first batch of the children born in this study turned seven, which is deemed the earliest age that IQ can predict intelligence as an adult. The results of the assessment of the children from the two groups did not show any significant difference.

The top reasons why the effects of fish oil supplements were not felt in the results as advertised could be whittled down to diet and the bioavailability. Women from both groups in the study could have been eating enough food that contained DHA so the additional supplements did not matter anymore.

The other reason, bioavailability, deals on the ability of the body to extract and use nutrients metabolically. It is possible that the body is not able to process or absorb the omega-3 fatty acid from the supplements compared to those from other sources, the Forbes  reported.

This was a controlled randomized study that limited other factors influencing the results. The SAHMRI study on DHA was led by Dr. Jacqueline Gould and funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia.

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