(Vancouver Friday, March 7, 2008) New research from the Child & Family Research Institute shows the typical North American diet of eating lots of meat and not much fish is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and this may pose a risk to infant neurological development. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats found in some fish such as salmon and herring and in smaller amounts in eggs and chicken. This discovery is an important step towards developing dietary fat guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Current dietary recommendations evolved from the 1950s emphasis on reducing saturated fat intake to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The study is published March 7th, 2008 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important for the babys developing eyes and brain, says Dr. Sheila Innis, the studys principal investigator, head of the nutrition and metabolism program at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Childrens Hospital, and professor, department of pediatrics, University of British Columbia.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, fat consumed by the mum is transferred to the developing baby and breastfed infant, and this fat is important for the babys developing organs. Our next task is to find out why the typical North American diet puts mothers at risk. Then we can develop dietary recommendations to help women consume a nutritious diet that promotes optimal health for mums and babies.
The researchers found that the women who ate lots of meat and little fish were deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and their babies didnt do as well on eye tests as babies from mothers who werent deficient. The results were noticeable as early as two months of age. The study is ongoing as the researchers intend to follow the childrens development until four years of age.
For the study, the researchers recruited 135 pregnant women and randomly assigned them to either a group that took
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Child & Family Research Institute