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
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
If you are pregnant, talk to one of our doctors about taking
supplemental DHA. It is available in fish
Source: Pediatrics online 2003;111:e39-e44