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Omega-3 Fish Oil Linked to Better Hand-Eye Coordination in Children

The Archives of Disease in Childhood published an early online report on December 21, 2006 which revealed that pregnant women who consumed omega-3 fish oil supplements had children with better hand-eye coordination than those born to mothers who did not receive the supplements.

In a double-blind trial, researchers in Perth, Western Australia gave 98 pregnant women daily supplements containing 4 grams of fish oil which provided 2.2 grams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 1.1 grams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), or 4 grams olive oil from the twentieth week of their pregnancies until their infants' birth. Eighty-three women completed the study. Thirty-three children of the women who received fish oil and 39 children of those who received olive oil were tested for language, behavior, practical reasoning, and hand-eye coordination.

While there were no significant differences in growth and overall language skills between the two groups, children whose mothers received fish oil had higher scores for measures of language comprehension, average phrase length, and vocabulary. Test scores for hand and-eye coordination skills were significantly greater among the children of mothers who were given fish oil . Cord blood levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids measured at birth were also associated with better hand-eye coordination scores, and these scores had an inverse association with cord blood levels of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid known as arachidonic acid.

"Maternal fish oil supplementation during pregnancy is safe for the fetus and infant, and may have potentially beneficial effects on the child's eye and hand coordination," the authors conclude.


Dunstan JA, Simmer K, Dixon G, Prescott SL. Cognitive assessment at 2 1/2 years following fish oil supplementation in pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2006 Dec 21; [Epub ahead of print]

Key concepts: omega-3 fatty acids, children, coordination