Fish Oil for Preemies

Doctors—recognizing the healthful benefits of Omega-3s—are starting to experiment with fish oil to help protect premature babies against Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a disease that attacks their eyes. Is it a good idea? The researchers seem to think so. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press reports:
Premature babies have still forming retinas; blood vessels necessary to nourish them haven't finished growing. ROP forms when something spurs those blood vessels to grow abnormally , too many form, and they leak.


But do omega-3s play a role? Dr. Lois Smith, an opthalmologist at Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues at Harvard and the National Eye Institute first turned to mice to find out.

They harmed the mice retinas in a way that mimics ROP, and then fed them different foods: Half ate the rodent version of a typical Western diet, high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s. Half ate the equivalent of a Japanese diet, with a 2 percent higher omega-3 content.

That simple change cut in half the retinal disease among the omega-3-nibbling mice, Smith reported last month in the journal Nature Medicine.

More intriguing, the omega-3s didn't just block bad blood vessels from forming. They also helped normal, healthy blood vessels grow. They appeared to work by blocking well-known inflammation-causing pathways in the body, while mice fed more of the omega-6s experienced extra inflammation.

Now, Smith is about to begin a study in premature babies at her Boston hospital to see if adding omega-3s to their IV feedings , feedings that today contain omega-6s instead , decreases their risk of eye damage.
I always find it puzzling when experts miss glaring truths. You’d think somewhere in their research they would have dug up SOMETHING warning them about dangers of fish oil, and, that there are much safer sources of Omega-3 fatty acids available, but, I’m no know-it-all. I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain, from Fatty Acids and Fish Oil:
Flaxseeds and hempseeds are the foods with the highest concentration of this much-needed fat. Besides omega-3 fats, these seeds also contain very high levels of photochemicals, anti-oxidents and fibers that have been shown to have beneficial effects that inhibit prostate, breast and colon cancer. However, these protective nutrients and cancer-fighting lignans are not present in significant quantity in the oil, only in the whole seed…


… The amount of DHA can vary significantly in various fish. Some salmon (especially farm raised) has very little DHA, for example. More importantly, several studies have indicated that both fish and fish oil supplements are prone to contamination with toxic materials. For example fish and fish oils have been shown to contain large concentrations of dioxins and PCBs because the dumping of toxic waste and raw sewage into our oceans has taken a toll. Lipid peroxide contamination occurring with aging of the oil further complicates the supposed health benefits of fish oil consumption. Fish and fish oils also contains mercury. Data from the Center for Disease Control indicates that one in 12 women of childbearing age in the United States has unsafe mercury levels, and their threshold for safety is high. The major contributor to body mercury load is fish and fish oils, not dental fillings. Multiple studies have illustrated most of the body's mercury load is from the consumption of fish…

…If you avoid fish and instead consume fish oil, you may still have a problem. One problem with fish oils is that much of the fat has already turned rancid. If you have ever cut open a capsule and tasted it, you will find it can taste like gasoline. Many people complain of burping, indigestion and of fish breath. I have also observed that rancidity of this fish fat places a stress on the liver. Patients of mine with abnormal liver function noted on their blood tests when consuming fish oil have had these tests return to normal when the fish oils were stopped.
I don’t know about you, but, I wouldn’t want my child eating something that tastes like gasoline or potentially contains harmful toxins. Although, this shouldn’t underscore the benefits of Omega-3s; Dr. Fuhrman talks about Omega-3s in Disease-Proof Your Child:
For the brain cells to maintain their cell membrane fluidity and to properly recognize chemical messengers they must have the right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats built into their structure. Too little omega-3 fats and too much saturated fat and trans fat could stiffen the fatty acid membranes and interfere with proper cellular communication. Raw nuts and seeds supply children with unpolluted omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a protective package rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.
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