Omega-3 and DHA for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers and Infants: Help or Hype?

Product Review Sunday

There is a huge market for pregnant and lactating mothers and infants to take Omega-3 and DHA, known as healthy fats and an essential brain foods.

Popular pediatrician and author Dr. Jim Sears explains fats influence brain development and performance for growing infants. He says, “The most rapid brain growth occurs during the first year of life, with the infant’s brain tripling in size by the first birthday.”

He continues, “During this stage of rapid central nervous system growth, the brain uses sixty percent of the total energy consumed by the infant.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the best source of DHA and Omega-3 for infants is breast milk. The AAP recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six-months and continuing for at least the first year because breast milk consists of 50 percent fat, providing infants with nutrition to optimize brain growth.

Dr. Jim Sears agrees saying, “Mother Nature knows how important fat is for babies; fifty percent of the calories in mother’s milk is fat.”

Nursing mothers can take a DHA supplement specifically formatted for breastfeeding. For infants who are not breastfeed, a formula substitute containing DHA should be given for the baby to obtain appropriate levels of Omega 3. The American Dietetic Association recommends formula containing DHA as at least 0.2 percent for the total of fatty acids.

But, there is a study published in Pediatrics which found that formulated supplemented DHA did not have a measurable effect on infants’ cognitive development. And pregnant and lactating mothers must be very careful not to ingest mercury found in shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish.

Certainly nursing and pregnant women are certainly encouraged to eat natural sources of DHA and Omega-3. Good sources include: cold water oily fish and fish oils, green leaves of plants, some seeds and nuts and some legumes.

What do you think? Do you give an infant in your care formula with added Omega-3 and DHA or supplement drops? Does the pregnant or lactating mother you work for take DHA or Omega-3 supplements?

Jim Sears, M.D.
American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Dietetic Association
La Leche League International
Pediatrics Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics


Nordic Naturals Baby’s Dha, 2 fl Ounce




Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula




Enfamil PREMIUM Infant Formula Milk-Based





Mothers Milk DHA




New Chapter Wholemega Prenatal 500 Mg, 90-Count


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