Prenatal vitamins are essential. A recent study reiterates this by suggesting that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — an omega-3 fatty acid found in prenatal vitamins, fish-oil supplements and fish — can prevent high blood pressure in their children, which is usually caused by obesity.
"Prenatal DHA exposure appears to programme the developing foetus to be protected against the blood pressure elevating effects of obesity in childhood," said Susan Carlson, Professor at the University of Kansas. For the purpose of the study, the team observed over 170 women with low-risk pregnancies in the clinical trial and the children were followed through up to six years.
Half of these women were given daily prenatal supplements of 600 milligrams DHA and the other half were given placebos, randomly.
The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed being overweight and obese were associated with the expected higher blood pressure, but not among children whose mothers took DHA.
The team observed that overweight and obese children of the mothers in the group that received placebo had a large mean increase of 3.94 mm Hg for systolic BP and 4.97 mm Hg for diastolic BP compared with overweight/obese children of DHA-supplemented mothers.
Terming the difference statistically significant, co-author of the report John Colombo, Professor at the varsity, said, "This research is aimed at expectant mothers and paediatricians who wonder what you can do prior to the birth of your child to optimise health and behaviour outcomes."
"The prenatal environment programmes a foetus' metabolism for what to expect in the postnatal environment. Part of DHA's known effects may be in programming cardiac function that preserves normal blood pressure in the case of high postnatal weight gain," he said.
The research team thinks that lower blood pressure at the age of six can extend beyond childhood
"It is known that blood pressure tracks over time such that people with higher BP early in life are more likely to have higher BP later in life," Carlson said.
For a change, it may be a good idea to consume those vitamin supplements!