Omega-3 DHA supplements reduce the harmful effect that a low birth weight has on heart health

Background: Impaired growth as a fetus and a low birth weight are linked to a thickening of the arterial wall and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in later life.

Aim: This study examined whether omega-3 PUFA supplementation in early childhood minimizes arterial wall thickening in low birth weight children.

Methods: Omega-3 DHA supplementation (500mg DHA/day) was introduced at ~6months of age and continued to 5 years (n=187; placebo control group n=176).

Results: In the control group, poor fetal growth was associated with carotid intima-media thickness. But this thickening of the heart muscle wall was prevented in the omega-3 supplemented group.

Conclusion: The authors estimated that the effect “is consistent with theomega-3 intervention resulting in a 5%-7% reduction in risk of future myocardial infarction, and 6%-8% reduction in risk of future stroke, per kilo decrease in birth weight.”

This study supports the important role of omega-3 PUFA supplementation in pregnancy and childhood.

Reference: Skilton MR, Ayer JG, Harmer JA, Webb K, Leeder SR,Marks GB, Celermajer DS. Impaired Fetal Growth and Arterial Wall Thickening; A Randomized Trial of Omega-3 Supplementation. Pediatrics 2012; 129(3):e698-703.

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