DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, has suddenly become a hot topic among new parents. And why wouldn't it? The essential nutrient known for promoting growth & development in babies is now advertised as the star ingredient in all prenatal vitamins, baby formulas & beverages! Considering how new parents are on a constant mission to get their baby's nutrition right, the attention around the role of DHA in infants makes sense. And guess what? It’s super important for all new mamas too!

 

How Exactly Does DHA Help You & Your Baby?

 

Every parent can relate to how fast their babies grow up! Especially during the initial months after birth. As they get bigger, they start to learn something new every day, right from taking that first step to flashing an adorable toothless smile! But as you sit in awe or hold back happy tears, do you ever wonder what goes behind this daily progress? It is the development of your baby's brain & the entire neurological network that makes these moments & milestones possible. And DHA plays a big role here! Learn how!

 

Role Of DHA In Infants

 

What Is DHA & Why Is It Crucial For Your Baby?

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a predominant Omega-3 fatty acid primarily constituting the human brain, skin, and retina.1 Our bodies need adequate levels of DHA for various physiological & metabolic functions.1  However, we can't synthesize the required amounts on our own and depend on external dietary sources like salmon, tuna, oysters, and other kinds of seafood or supplements.

Following birth, a baby depends on the mother's breast milk for its nutritional needs. Therefore, a lactating mother should stick to a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet to maintain optimum amounts of DHA for herself as well as the baby. 2

DHA: The Ultimate ‘Brain Food’ For Babies!

The role of DHA in infant brain development begins even before birth. As you enter the third trimester, a large amount of DHA starts to accumulate inside your baby's brain, and this process continues well after you have given birth, close to two whole years! 3

Although your baby's brain continues to develop throughout childhood, the initial two years showcase rapid growth.2 During this time, the brain gets bigger, and different neural pathways start to form a well-established network. Being a structural component of brain cells & membranes, DHA fuels this growth indispensably.3

DHA also plays a role in creating and maintaining brain plasticity, i.e., the ability to change its structure & function.4 This unique ability helps the brain to learn new things, process thoughts & emotions, as well as recover from an injury. Multiple studies have shown that optimum levels of DHA are positively linked with better cognitive growth, higher IQ levels, increased mental adaptability, and lower risk of cognitive diseases in children.4, 5, 6

Role Of DHA In Infants’ Eye Health

Higher DHA levels strongly correlate with improved visual function & acuity in infants.7  Just like the brain, the retina begins to grow rapidly during the last months of pregnancy and continues till the first six months of life.8 Adequate DHA levels in babies not only support the healthy development of the retina but also offer protection to this fragile tissue. 9

Studies also suggest that visual acuity during the first year of life is higher among babies with sufficient DHA supplementation than in those who remain deficient.10 Moreover, DHA deficiency in babies is also linked with the reduced light sensitivity of retinal photoreceptors.11 This makes the role of DHA in infant vision & eye health extremely important!

Building A Better Immunity Via DHA

Babies are born with an immune system that is drastically different from adults. While their innate immunity is functional, their adaptive immunity is naive at birth.12 The role of DHA in infant immunity has been widely discussed, and recent studies have reflected that it plays an integral role in performing various functions related to the immune system.12

It has been established that babies who have not been breastfed are at a higher risk of developing atopic diseases, including hypersensitive allergies, asthma, eczema, and much more. Whereas babies who get sufficient DHA nutrition through pregnancy and initial years after birth have fewer chances to develop these conditions, even with mothers who have a history of the same.12

 

Role Of DHA In Lactating Women

Lower Risk Of Postpartum Depression 

For a new mother, the demand to fulfill a baby’s nutritional needs increases significantly after giving birth. The baby obtains its share of DHA from the mother’s breast milk, depleting her nutrient stores!

Low levels of DHA can cause a variety of issues for new mothers, including major depressive disorder. Almost 10 - 20% of women suffer from depression immediately before or after birth. These symptoms in mothers, in turn, affect the cognitive & behavioral development of their children. 13

A recent study suggests that women witness a 50% decrease in their plasma DHA levels just after one pregnancy. This decrease subsequently affects the amount of DHA in their breast milk too. Moreover, the majority of women are not able to restore normal DHA levels even 26 weeks after birth.14 Therefore, new and lactating mothers should maintain their DHA pool with a healthy & balanced diet as well as postnatal supplements.

OmegaScore N: Measure, Modify & Monitor Your DHA Levels Now!

As we uncover the role of DHA in infant life, new moms should begin taking actionable steps towards their own & the baby’s nutritional needs. LifeCell is here to help you kickstart this journey with its advanced OmegaScore N test that helps measure, modify & monitor DHA levels in the comfort of your home! 

With just a few drops of breast milk, our safe & non-invasive postnatal test delivers deep insights into your health. OmegaScore N test measures the amount of DHA in breast milk against a target recommended level and helps lactating mothers like you understand if their diet contains the required amount of DHA or not. The derived results can allow you to personalize your diets as per your doctor's recommendation & safely change your DHA levels in 4 weeks. For more information on OmegaScore N, call us at 1800 266 5533.

 

References

 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3262608/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6090734/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728620/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772061/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23783296/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10479465/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5538359/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206354/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20130095/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11724460/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27138971/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046737/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989696/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28651697/

References