Breast feeding mothers who deliver premature infants can give their newborns a boost toward normal mental development by consuming Omega 3 fatty acids. A new study, published in the January 14, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that omega 3 fatty acids can be delivered to premature infants through breast milk, halting the chances of delays in mental development associated with infant girls who are born prematurely.
Omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish oils contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), essential for normal brain development. According to the recent study, baby girls born prematurely experienced an 80% reduction of significant delays in mental development when fed they were given DHA.
Lead author Maria Makrides, PhD, from the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, Australia said in an interview with Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery, “We recommend increased DHA for all preterm infants born at less than 33 weeks' gestation. We think that the level of DHA used in the treatment arm of our study should become the new gold standard for preterm infants, whether it is supplied through breast milk or infant formula."
Dr. Makrides explains, "We supplemented nursing women with about 1 g of DHA per day in tuna-oil supplements to increase the DHA content of their milk." If the mother could not express enough breast milk for her baby, an infant formula with a matching DHA content was provided.
The researchers are not certain why they did not see the same benefit of Omega 3 fatty acids in baby boys born prematurely. The scientists believe "The higher metabolic rate in boys may mean that they utilize much of the DHA they receive into energy. In addition, boys may have a higher requirement for DHA. Clearly, this is an area of important research for the future."
Past studies have shown that babies who are born prematurely have an increased incidence of mental disabilities. Childhood nutrition plays an important role in future health.
Consuming fish regularly or supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids is important to overall health and well-being, for infants, children and adults. Omega 3 fatty acids, balanced with omega 6 and 9 fatty acids are important for heart health, boost brain function, and may help promote healthy cholesterol levels.
Speak with your doctor before taking any supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids, consumed by breast feeding mothers are now found to promote mental development of baby girls who are born prematurely - another benefit of Omega 3 fatty acids.
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