A new study has shown that taking an omega-3 supplement during pregnancy may help protect the child from high blood pressure.
The research is from the University of Kansas.
Previously, scientists have found that about 20% of school-age children and young people aged 6 to 19 years in the US have obesity.
In the present study, the researchers examined women with low-risk pregnancies between March 2006 and September 2009.
Half of the women took a daily prenatal supplement of 600 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and gave half a placebo, not DHA.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid.
The team found that in women who did not take DHA, overweight and obesity linked to higher blood pressure were found in their babies.
However, in the group where mothers got DHA, the babies’ body weight and blood pressure were normal.
The finding suggests pregnant women who take 600 milligrams of DHA can protect their kids from the blood pressure-elevating effects of overweight in early childhood.
This may be because DHA plays a role in programming cardiac function that preserves normal blood pressure in the case of high postnatal weight gain.
Prenatal DHA intake may help program the developing fetus to be protected against obesity in childhood, which is linked to increased blood pressure.
Previous research has shown that people with higher BP early in life are more likely to have higher BP later in life.
The researchers suggest that prenatal vitamins, fish oil supplements, and fish meat all contain DHA. Therefore it is not hard for pregnant women to get the nutrient.
It is important for women to take actions prior to the birth of their kids to optimize their health.
But they warn that although many prenatal supplements in the US contain DHA, most have much less than 600 milligrams.
It is also important for future research to find out what is the best amount of prenatal DHA to prevent high blood pressure in children with excessive weight.
The National Institutes of Health funded the work.
One study author is John Colombo, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas and director of the Life Span Institute.
The research is published in JAMA Network Open.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.
Further reading: JAMA Network Open.