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STUDY: Essential Fatty Acids Crucial for Brain Development
JOURNAL: University of Connecticut
AUTHORS: Dr. Sunita R. Cheruku
ABSTRACT: Newborns whose mothers consumed adequate amounts of a particular fatty acid during the last 3 months of pregnancy exhibit healthier sleep patterns than others.
COMMENTARY: The amount of time babies spend in different stages of sleep may indicate whether they are experiencing normal brain development. Consequently, mothers who get enough of the fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their diets may also be helping their babies' mental functioning, according to Dr. Sunita R. Cheruku and her colleagues at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
The results of this study are strongly suggestive of the importance of DHA levels during the last trimester.
The researchers cautioned that even if newborns appear to show disrupted sleep patterns, they may only have a higher risk of--and are not doomed to--less than optimal development.
Risk factors do not mean certainty of outcome.
DHA is a long-chain polyunsaturated acid that appears to boost brain development. Infants accumulate fatty acids in their brains during the last 3 months in the womb and the first few months outside it. The fatty acids are found in cold water fish and fish oils.