Mother & Baby

14 September 2011

A new product, supported by the largest clinical trial to date in the field of essential fatty acids, has been launched to encourage the healthy and safe development of mother and baby during and after pregnancy.

Efalex® Mother & Baby is a fish oil supplement specifically designed to replenish essential fatty acids for expectant mothers – whose stocks are naturally depleted by the demands of the growing baby - to help encourage healthy pregnancy and beyond, and provide the mother with the essential nutrients which research shows, are often lacking from the diet. Efalex® Mother & Baby contains Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LC-PUFAs), also known as ‘essential fatty acids’ (EFAs), such as omega-3 and omega-6.

Essential fatty acids are vital for good health, however they are not produced by the body and must be consumed through diet, with oily fish recognised as the best source. With 65% of the population falling short of the Government’s recommended daily intake of essential fatty acids, it is important to supplement diets to address this deficiency, especially during pregnancy.

The fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is particularly important for a baby’s development as it promotes cell turnover, supports healthy development of blood cells and vessels and constitutes the building blocks of the brain, nervous system and eyes. Arachidonic acid (AA) is one of the most abundant fatty acids in the brain, in similar quantities to DHA, and is vital for neurological health, including early neurological development. AA is also required for muscle development and strength.

Maintaining a nutritious diet as pregnancy progresses will help to meet the demands placed on the mother’s fatty acid supply as the placenta and foetus grow. During the last three months of pregnancy, there is a rapid accumulation of DHA and AA in the eyes and brain cells of the foetus and the brain increases 4 to 5 times in weight. A variety of studies have linked maternal and infant DHA levels to benefits in the baby’s development including increased gestation and improved visual acuity (at age 6 months) , as well as enhanced sleep patterns and mental processing.

The 2010 placebo-controlled DOMInO trial, which involved nearly 2,400 pregnant women (who took either Efalex® Mother & Baby or a placebo) also revealed a 60% reduction in slow developing cognitive and language skills in infants and a 35% reduction in the incidence of low birth weight babies. Maintaining supplementation after birth and during breastfeeding will also assist in the mother’s recovery by topping up depleted nutrients as well as ensuring an adequate fatty acid intake to the baby through the mother’s breast milk. Research has shown that the mother can become nutritionally deficient during this time, in particular those women who have gone through successive pregnancies that are less than 2 to 3 years apart .

Peter Clough, Technical Director at Efamol Ltd explains why: ‘After birth, breast milk supplies the DHA and AA that is required for your baby to continue its development. However, if the mother is not getting enough DHA in her diet and she also does not have enough DHA stored as fat, then that DHA will be taken from her brain. In fact, a woman’s brain can shrink by about 3% during pregnancy. Consequently, her body stores can become depleted resulting in health risks for her including post natal depression ’

Efalex® Mother & Baby is available from large Boots stores priced at around £8.99. Each 750g capsule contains high strength omega-3 fish oils, DHA, EPA, AA, omega-6 nutrients and Vitamin E, to help mother and baby stay healthy and happy.

The importance of fatty acids

Read more