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Cod Liver Oil May Benefit Baby's IQ


Pregnant and breast-feeding women who supplement their diets with cod liver oil may help boost their children's intelligence, according to new study findings.

A type of omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is crucial for the development of the central nervous system. It is thought that pregnant and breast-feeding women who consume such fatty acids might improve the intellectual potential of their children, particularly during the third trimester and in the first three months of life, when the brain undergoes growth spurts.

To investigate, researchers gave more than 300 women either cod liver oil or corn oil supplements in their 18th week of pregnancy. The women took the supplements daily until their infants were 3 months old. There were no other differences in nutrient content of the mothers' usual diets.

According to findings based on 84 infants, children born to mothers who took cod liver oil supplements scored higher on intelligence tests measuring problem solving and information processing at 4 years of age.

The new findings support research showing that breast-fed infants may outsmart their formula-fed peers later in life, possibly as a result of compounds, including omega-3 fatty acids, found in breast milk.

If you are pregnant, talk to one of our doctors about taking supplemental DHA. It is available in fish oil.

Source: Pediatrics online 2003;111:e39-e44