Can Low Birthweight Babies Benefit From Omega 3 Supplements?
Low birthweight babies can develop Ischemic Heart Disease in later life
As part of our commitment to writing his website we like to stay up to date with the latest news about Omega 3 fatty acids, and to examine some of the latest studies which have been published.
Often we find that new studies published on the role of Omega 3 in health tend to confirm some of the older studies, so often it is not new news, though is certainly encouraging. For example there have been studies recently confirming the importance of Omega 3 in good eye health, on which we have reported before.
But a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of paediatrics in February 2012 examines an area that we have not seen examined before.
In this study, undertaken at the University of Sydney in Australia, the role of Omega 3 fatty acids in helping reduce the risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in people who were born very small, was studied.
Babies who are born small, particularly within the bottom 10th percentile birthweights, tend to have a greater risk of developing Ischemic Heart Disease in later life.
In the study it was observed that “Impaired fetal growth is an independent cardiovascular risk factor and is associated with arterial wall thickening in children.” In other words low birthweight babies suffer from increased risk of cardiovascular disease resulting from thickening of the arterial walls from early atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fat on the walls of the arteries and the hardening of the arteries.
The study sought to determine whether or not supplementation with Omega 3 supplements would help reduce the increased risk of Ischemic Heart Disease.
In the study 616 children who are already taking part in an asthma prevention study were given, variously, a 500 mg fish oil supplement from the start of bottlefeeding, together with canola-based margarine and cooking oil, up until the age of 5.
The second group did not receive the fish oil supplements, but received a 500 mg sunflower oil supplement together with margarine high in Omega 6 fatty acids and cooking oil.
At the age of 8 all of the children were tested for thickening of the arterial walls. This early thickening is an indicator of subsequent cardiovascular disease.
Of those who did not receive the Omega 3 fish oil supplements, the children with low birthweights still demonstrated thickening of the arteries. This was not the case for those who were given the Omega 3 fish oil supplements.
The study concluded that “The inverse association of fetal growth with arterial wall thickness in childhood can be prevented by dietary Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation over the first 5 years of life.” However it was also observed that, as is usually the case, further study was also warranted to confirm the findings.
This is the first time that we have seen a study examining the effects of Omega 3 fish oil supplementation on children with small birthweights, and the first time we have seen evidence that those children may help reduce the risk of Ischemic Heart Disease later in life by Omega 3 supplementation early in life.
Where subsequent studies become available examining this particular health issue which bring them to you.
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