DHA i.e. docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated acid. It is not produced by our body; hence we need to obtain it from our diet. DHA is an important building block. It is required for appropriate development of brain, eyes, and the nervous system.
Though DHA omega-3 is found all over the body, it is present in abundance in our heart, brain and eyes. Studies have shown that DHA omega-3 promotes healthy brain development in a fetus.
Developing babies are unable to generate their own DHA so they obtain it from their mother through the placenta during pregnancy. After birth these infants obtain these DHA from breast milk of their mother.
Hence DHA is crucial for the babies prenatal as well as postnatal for best development. Hence pregnant women must get sufficient amount of DHA during their pregnancy. Many health care providers recommend DHA supplements to their pregnant patients.
When a pregnant woman takes DHA supplements during her pregnancy, it gives several benefits to her as well as her baby. Studies have revealed that if DHA supplements are taken till the last trimester of pregnancy, preterm labor is prevented.
Women who consume adequate amount of DHA during pregnancy give birth to a baby who weighs more, are longer in size and have slightly increased head circumference.
Postpartum depression is a common problem experienced by women. But studies have shown that women who take higher DHA in their diet during their pregnancy are less prone to suffer from depression postpartum.
Even if pregnant women take prenatal vitamins, they are recommended to take a separate DHA supplement because these prenatal vitamins lack in DHA contents.
Pregnant women should also consume foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds, walnuts, tofu, beans, fish, olive oil and winter squash.
DHA supplements taken during pregnancy enhance the mental as well as visual development of the baby. It also increases immunity of the baby and enhances his ability to adapt to the changing environment.
Babies born to a mother with higher DHA levels, show improved sleeping patterns in comparison to other babies. Studies also reveal that children who get sufficient supply of DHA in their mother’s womb, exhibit higher IQ level after birth.
Hence pregnant women should take adequate amount of DHA either through diet or supplements.