Fish oil capsules ineffective in pregnancy?

Does taking fish capsules during pregnancy promote the child's intellectual development? A team of researchers from Australia investigated this question with the result that the capsules do not deliver what they promise.

Doctors, midwives and friends recommend: Fish oil capsules should be taken during pregnancy to protect against what is known as child bed depression. The capsules are also intended to promote the child's intellectual development. However, a recent large-scale study was unable to determine these positive effects and came to the conclusion that depressive symptoms in mothers were not alleviated and that the child's intellectual development was not promoted. According to the study results, fish oil capsules are ineffective in at least these areas.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers use the argument that omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil capsules promote the child's intellectual development if the preparations are taken during pregnancy. The manufacturers rely on studies in which very few test subjects participated. The studies cited also had other methodological weaknesses.

Study suggests: Fish oil capsules are ineffective
A total of 2400 pregnant women participated in this Australian study. The study participants either took the preparations with the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids DHA, or they were given a placebo with normal vegetable oil. In the course of the study, both groups of mothers developed a similar number of depressions in the first six months after the birth of the child. In the children, the researchers also found no significant improvements in mental development in speech skills or motor skills. "Our results do not support a routine intake in women to alleviate depressive symptoms or improve cognitive or linguistic performance in early childhood," write the researchers of the "Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute" in the science magazine "Jama". Experts in naturopathy point out in this connection that capsules split off from other active substances are usually not effective. Instead, natural foods should be consumed. A US study also recently found that acupuncture is effective for pregnancy depression. (sb, 10/22/2010)

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