More Fish Oil

Back in june I posted a thing about fish oil. Read that post if you want, but it basically said that childrens’ cognitive development did not benefit from taking fish oil supplements. Today another study was released in the Journal of the American Medical Association. the study is called Effect of DHA Supplementation During Pregnancy on Maternal Depression and Neurodevelopment of Young Children.

Let’s go over the basics of this study:

  • Double blind, randomized, and placebo controlled.
  • Placebo pill is vegetable oil, a combination of palm, sunflower, and rapeseed oils designed to match the average oil consumption of Australians.
  • Used patients from five perinatal care centers.
  • 2,399 women in the study, 2,320 available at the end of the study.
  • 694 children selected for the followup.
  • To measure postpartum depression hey used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).
  • To measure neuro development at 18 months they used the Cognitive and Language Composite Scales of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (BSID-III).

Their conclusion:

The use of DHA-rich fish oil capsules compared with vegetable oil capsules during pregnancy did not result in lower levels of postpartum depression in mothers or improved cognitive and language development in their offspring during early childhood.

Now, its important to look at the statistical analysis to see if it matches their conclusion.

  • Postpartum depression: no statistical difference between DHA and control groups.
  • Mean cognitive scored: no statistical difference between the two groups.

So this study came up negative. No statistically significant results showing DHC has any effect. One weakness of this study (that they admitted) is they did not verify the depression diagnosis clinically. It’s not clear how this affects the study, just something to keep in mind.

 So let’s add this to the pile of mixed evidence, and is the evidence mixed. From the “comment” section fo the study:

Our results are at odds with the results of some large-scale epidemiological studies.13 It may be that even well-conducted epidemiological studies overestimate effect size and do not adequately deal with residual confounding, or that other nutrients in fish and seafood, beyond DHA, contribute to the observations from epidemiological studies. Further studies are required to determine whether there are specific benefits of DHA supplementation for women with a previous history of depression and for women at risk of preterm birth.

So the jury is still very much out on this one.

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