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Is Your Baby Getting Enough Omega-3s?

I’m currently 9 weeks pregnant with baby number two, so I’m of course in child development mode, in more ways than one! It’s World Breastfeeding Week this week and I want to take the opportunity to highlight the importance of omega-3s during this time for developing infants. I’m sure you’ve seen DHA or omega-3s on some prenatal vitamin labels at the store but some of you might be wondering what they are all about. And then of course, how to make sure your child is getting what he or she needs. I’d love to share how to make sure your infant is getting this vital nutrient and why it’s important for their brain and eye development.

DHA omega-3s are one of 11 nutrients the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes as crucial for neurodevelopment in the first 1,000 days of life. It is important for babies’ cognitive and brain development as it is a significant percentage of fatty tissue that makes up the brain. The human brain relies on DHA and continues to accumulate DHA up to age 18, but it does so most aggressively from about halfway through gestation to two years of age. So pretty important, right? DHA omega-3s also play an essential role in infant eye development during the second half of pregnancy and into early infancy, being found in the highest concentration in the retina of the eye.

Developing infants, like my little pumpkin, must obtain this vital nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk after birth. As breastfeeding mothers are the sole source of DHA omega-3 fatty acids for developing babies, it’s critical that pregnant and nursing mothers eat enough fatty fish or take an omega-3 supplement.

Like me, you might be wondering, how much DHA do I need? The optimal intake for pregnant and lactating women is 700 mg per day of EPA and DHA, of which at least 300 mg should be DHA. The FDA recommends women who are pregnant or breastfeeding get between 8 and 12 ounces of seafood, specifically fatty fish like salmon, to absorb EPA and DHA omega-3s needed during this critical time. I don’t know about you, but I just got up to check my prenatal vitamins and mine isn’t enough! Looks like I’ll be heading back to the pharmacy for an omega-3 supplement and getting my hands on more salmon. Yum!

For those of you out there using formula, mothers and soon-to-be-moms should choose those enriched with DHA and ARA to make sure your little one is getting all she needs.

 

Not only are omega-3s good for developing healthy brains in babies and infants, but a recent study of 20,000 pregnant women found that supplementation of EPA and DHA omega-3s also resulted in a 42 percent risk reduction of early preterm birth (< 34 weeks), 11 percent less risk of preterm birth (< 37 weeks), and 10 percent less risk of low birth weight (< 5.5 lbs.). Those are stats I can get behind!

Click here to visit GOED’s Omega-3s website.

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Disclaimer: I have teamed up with GOED in support of this campaign. We received compensation for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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