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DHA In The Womb May Fortify Baby’s Immune System

BEIJING, Aug. 2, 2011 (Xinhuanet) — Pregnant moms who take DHA supplements may help fortify the immune system of their babies and give them some protection against common colds, a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Reseachers randomly assigned nearly 1,000 Mexican women to receive either DHA supplements per day or a placebo during their second trimester and continued to do so until they gave birth.

At all three time points, the duration of cold symptoms tended to be shorter in the children whose mothers had taken the DHA supplements. And at the one-month mark, the DHA babies had 24 percent lower odds of having had any cold symptoms.

When the researchers checked in on the babies one month later, 38 percent of the infants whose mothers took the DHA pills had experienced cold symptoms in the previous 15 days, compared with 45 percent of infants whose mothers got the placebo. The gap remained when the babies were 3 months old: 38 percent vs. 44 percent.

When 1-month-old babies in the DHA group had cold symptoms like cough, phlegm and wheezing, those symptoms cleared up about 25 percent faster than they did for babies in the placebo group. Those gaps closed in subsequent months, but when the babies were 6 months old, the ones in the DHA group got over fevers, runny noses and breathing problems more quickly than babies in the placebo group.

Previous research has suggested that DHA supplements can improve respiratory health and overall immune function in babies and children, but this is just the second study to explore whether exposure to DHA in the womb might have similar effects.