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Fish Oil Tied to Easing Some Pregnancy Complications

Update Date: Jul 29, 2013 02:32 PM EDT

Fish oil supplements have been the subject of debate lately. Within the past years, researchers have found that fish oil could potentially have great health benefits, cutting risks of breast cancer and diabetes. Researchers have also found that fish oil helps with fetal growth. A recent study, however, found that fish oil supplements might increase a man's risk of prostate cancer. Now, a newer study is reporting that fish oil might be able to ease some serious pregnancy complications. Although all of these studies report associations and not cause-and-effect relationships, the decision to take fish oil supplements should be decided between the individual and his/her doctor.

In this study, researchers from the University of Western Australia used rat models to test the potential effects of taking fish oil while pregnant. The researchers administered fish oil supplements to some of the pregnant rats. During the gestation period and after birth, the researchers analyzed the effects of the supplement through the placenta and the fetus. They discovered that pregnant rats that took the supplement in comparison to the control group of pregnant rats had higher levels of resolvins, which are compounds produced by omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds had been tied to easing inflammation

The researchers noted that when inflammation occurs in the placenta during pregnancy, it can lead to several health disorders such as gestational diabetes, miscarriage and pre-eclampsia, which is akin to high blood pressure. By including these supplements into one's diet, they could potentially help prevent pregnancy complications. However, the researchers stated that more studies would need to be done in human trials to determine if adding fish oil to your diet is necessary.  

"Many people will have heard that fish oil is good for you but we don't fully understand the mechanisms," the lead researcher, Megan Jones, a Ph.D. student, said. "The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are known to limit inflammation, and only recently it has come to light that they do this by being converted to resolvins that reduce inflammation after it's occurred. These findings significantly help further our understanding of how fish oil intake may be beneficial during pregnancy."

The study was published in the Journal of Lipid Research.

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