Offspring of the women taking fish oil supplementation from the 24th week of pregnancy experience a higher body mass index (BMI) until 6 years of age, but that is not accompanied by an increased obesity risk at age 6. The study demonstrates that consumption of the n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) is linked to a proportional increase in fat, bone, and lean body mass in children upto 6 years.
These are the findings of a large randomized controlled trial published in The BMJ.
Hans Bisgaard, professor, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues conducted the study to examine the effect of supplementation with n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) in pregnancy on anthropometry and body composition in offspring.
Studies in animals have shown that supplementing the diet with fish oil during pregnancy affects adipogenesis (the development of fat cells). However, while trials in humans have shown that pregnant women with a higher intake of fish oil give birth to higher birth weight infants, the impact on children later in life has been unclear.
The trial involved 736 pregnant women from the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood study who were randomized to receive n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) (fish oil) or olive oil (control) daily from week 24 of pregnancy week until one week after birth.
Height, weight, head and waist measurements were assessed 11 times from birth to age 6 years and adjusted for age and sex. These revealed a sustained higher BMI from 1 year to 6 years of age.
Body composition was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans at 3.5 and 6 years of age and demonstrated that the higher BMI was not the result of a higher fat percentage, but reflected a proportional increase in lean mass, bone mass, and fat mass, suggesting that the fish oil supplementation had a general growth stimulating effect.
- The mean body mass index (BMI) z score was increased between age 0 and 6 years in the fish oil supplementation group compared with the control group.
- At 6 years, supplementation was associated with a higher BMI z score (0.19 (0.06 to 0.32); P=0.004), a higher weight/height (3.48 (0.38 to 6.57) g/cm; P=0.03), and a larger waist circumference (0.6 (0.0 to 1.2) cm; P=0.04) but not a higher proportion of obese children, using International Obesity Task Force grades.
- The dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scan at age 6 years showed children whose mothers had taken fish oil supplements while pregnant had a 395g higher total mass, 280.7g higher lean mass, 10.3g higher bone mineral content and 116.3g higher fat mass compared with children of mothers who took the control oil.
“The body composition at age 6 years in children given fish oil supplementation was characterized by a proportional increase in lean, bone, and fat mass suggesting a general growth stimulating effect of n-3 LCPUFA,” concluded the authors.
For further reference follow the link: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3312
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