“High-dose fish oil supplements given during pregnancy appear to be safe for the baby and even improve later hand-eye coordination.”
In a small study (83 pregnant women), Susan L. Prescott, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Western Australia and colleagues, reported that pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements appeared “safe for fetal development even at higher doses than previously studied.” The study looked at women with allergies, and their children to test whether fish oil would protect the children from allergies.
“Fish oil provides an extra dose of long-chain fatty acids essential for normal neuronal and visual development, but no studies had been done to evaluate whether high doses are safe for the fetus, the Perth group reported online Dec. 20 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal and Neonatal Edition.)”
When the babies were assessed at age 2.5 years, the researchers found no difference in physical growth between the fish oil and olive oil group.
Interesting to note, however, that the children of women in the fish oil group had significantly higher hand-eye coordination scores than those of the control group.
“These preliminary data indicate that supplementation with a relatively high-dose fish oil during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy is not only safe but also seems to have potential beneficial effects that need to be explored further,” the researchers wrote.
Since we already have preliminary evidence that fish oil has been linked with improved mood and a decrease in depressive symptoms it is worth repeating that women who experience mild symptoms of depression during and after pregnancy should discuss the use of fish oil with their doctors.