The making of you
Omega 3 and the first 1,000 days of life
Did you know that your first 1,000 days, from conception to the age of two, were the most important of your life?
It’s true – at no other point did your body develop so rapidly.
Window of opportunity
The first 1,000 days are particularly crucial for cognitive development.
Experts have referred to this period as the brain’s “window of opportunity”. 1
As easy as DHA
A critically important nutrient for the development of a baby’s brain is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
It is the predominant Omega 3 fatty acid in neural tissues.
In fact, it is found in every cell of the human body.
Without DHA, we wouldn’t even exist.
From the moment we are conceived, DHA is central to our development, acting as the building block for our brains and vision. Many studies have linked DHA with improved cognitive and visual outcomes in infants. 2
And in 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics officially recognized the importance of DHA to support brain development in the first 1,000 days of life. 3
Eating for two
Babies cannot feed themselves, so maternal nutrition plays a vital role during the first 1,000 days of life.
From conception through to breast-feeding, the quality of an infant’s diet is determined entirely by its mother’s.
This means that, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, a baby depends on its mother for its DHA intake.
As a result, many leading health authorities and expert organizations have recognised consumption of DHA as particularly important for pregnant and lactating women.
As well as being essential for a baby’s normal development, DHA is associated with a significantly reduced risk of pre-term birth. 4
29 babies are born premature every minute – equating to more than 15 million a year. 5
Globally, as many as one in 10 of all babies born are pre-term 6
North America: 11.2%
Asia: 10.4%
Latin America and the Caribbean: 9.8%
Europe: 8.4%
The cost of premature birth
Tragically, more than one million babies die every year as a result of complications associated with premature birth.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Research shows that low DHA blood levels during pregnancy increase the risk of an early pre-term birth. 8
This suggests that, depending on how much Omega 3 is already in their diet, women could improve their chances of a full-term pregnancy by increasing their intake of DHA.
A helping hand
Our bodies are not very efficient at creating DHA so it must be obtained from the diet, with oily fish the most abundant food source.
However, despite its importance to a baby’s development, there is evidence that many pregnant women and new mothers are not getting enough.
In fact, it was found that almost 75% of women do not meet EU recommendations for DHA during pregnancy and lactation. 9
Supplementary benefits
Many people use fish oil supplements to increase their intake of Omega 3s. For those who don’t eat fish, algae oil offers a good alternative.
In the area of maternal nutrition, studies have shown that:

  • Pregnant women who take a DHA supplement are 10 times more likely to achieve the recommended intake. 10
  • DHA supplementation during pregnancy can help to increase the length of gestation in women, especially those with low levels of Omega 3 in their diet.
Off to a
good start
The first 1,000 days of a baby’s life are a once-only event, never to be repeated.
Let’s make them count.
Developed in association with GOED