Canadian mothers low in fatty acids can affect infants’ nervous system, study finds

Fatty acids plays an important role in building an infant’s nervous system, and Canadian mothers need more of it, a new study has found. The suggested remedy – more fish.

The findings come from the CHILD Cohort Study which has been tracking the health of nearly 3,500 Canadian infants and their families since 2008. Fatty acids, most importantly omega-3 fatty acids, strengthen an infant’s brain and eyes, but the study has found a number of factors can affect these levels in a mother’s milk.

The study suggests the level of these fatty acids in Canadian mothers fall below the world average, but if a mother uses fish oil supplements during a pregnancy or breastfeeding, these levels increase.

“Overall, we found that a mother’s diet, especially fish intake and the use of fish oil supplements was important in determining concentrations of long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 milk fatty acids, while a mother’s genes mainly determined the concentrations of omega-6 milk fatty acids,” University of Manitoba’s Dr. Meghan Azad, an investigator in the study, said in a news release.

A mother’s diet and weight before a pregnancy can also affect fatty acid levels, the study found.

CHILD Cohort Study researchers used data from more than 1,000 mothers and their infants to find these results.