Pregnancy is a critical period during which many physiologic changes occur in a woman’s body. It is also a time when most women want to be as healthy as possible by eating a healthy diet, becoming more physically active and avoiding risky behaviors. What women eat during pregnancy can have a large impact on the healthy development of the unborn baby.
Docosahexaenoic acid, or simply DHA, is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the brain and eyes and it has previously been shown to benefit infant brain and retinal development during pregnancy
Fatty acid consumption during pregnancy may also have an impact on infant adipose tissue development. Research has shown that maternal consumption of a DHA-containing functional food during pregnancy benefits infant’s visual acuity, sleeping pattern, and infant performance on problem-solving skills.
Optimum levels of DHA have a positive impact on the development of the infant’s visual, motor, cognitive and behavioral skills and higher DHA intakes during pregnancy also have been shown to reduce the risk of pre-term labor.
DHA may also promote a mother's emotional well being after pregnancy and may lower the risk of post-natal depression too.
Consumption of functional food containing DHA during pregnancy may also be advantageous with respect to infant body composition at birth and insulin sensitivity.
Cold water oily fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and whitefish are our best dietary sources of DHA. It is important however that pregnant women talk to their doctor to ensure that they are getting the right kinds and amounts of food in their diet.