Results from a large birth cohort study suggest women may not be consuming enough omega-3 to meet the recommendations for pregnancy and lactation. The study is published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

The Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) was a birth cohort study that evaluated over 2,000 women and their infants from Calgary and Edmonton. The study sought to understand the association between maternal nutrient status during pregnancy and maternal mental health and child health and development. The first 600 women were studied during and post-pregnancy to see whether their omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3-LCPUFA) intake was enough to meet current recommendations.

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Researchers found that the majority of study participants were not meeting the omega-3 LCPUFA recommendations during pregnancy and lactation. Only 27% of women during pregnancy, and 25% of women at three months postpartum met the European Union (EU) consensus recommendations for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).Women who took a DHA-containing supplement were 10.6 and 11.1 times more likely to meet the EU consensus recommendation for pregnancy and postpartum, respectively.

The study findings suggest that counseling and education about supplement benefits should continue beyond pregnancy since 44% of women in the cohort who took a supplement during pregnancy were no longer taking them when breastfeeding three months postpartum.

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