Study Title:

DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcomes.

Study Abstract

Observational studies associate higher intakes of n-3 (omega-3) long-chain PUFAs (LCPUFAs) during pregnancy with higher gestation duration and birth size. The results of randomized supplementation trials using various n-3 LCPUFA sources and amounts are mixed.
We tested the hypothesis that 600 mg/d of the n-3 LCPUFA DHA can increase maternal and newborn DHA status, gestation duration, birth weight, and length. Safety was assessed.

This phase III, double-blind, randomized controlled trial was conducted between January 2006 and October 2011. Women (n = 350) consumed capsules (placebo, DHA) from <20 wk of gestation to birth. Blood (enrollment, birth, and cord) was analyzed for red blood cell (RBC) phospholipid DHA. The statistical analysis was intent-to-treat.

Most of the capsules were consumed (76% placebo; 78% DHA), the mean DHA intake for the treated group was 469 mg/d. In comparison with placebo, DHA supplementation resulted in higher maternal and cord RBC-phospholipid-DHA (2.6%; P < 0.001), longer gestation duration (2.9 d; P = 0.041), and greater birth weight (172 g; P = 0.004), length (0.7 cm; P = 0.022), and head circumference (0.5 cm; P = 0.012). In addition, the DHA group had fewer infants born at <34 wk of gestation (P = 0.025) and shorter hospital stays for infants born preterm (40.8 compared with 8.9 d; P = 0.026) than did the placebo group. No safety concerns were identified.

A supplement of 600 mg DHA/d in the last half of gestation resulted in overall greater gestation duration and infant size. A reduction in early preterm and very-low birth weight could be important clinical and public health outcomes of DHA supplementation.

Study Information

Carlson SE, Colombo J, Gajewski BJ, Gustafson KM, Mundy D, Yeast J, Georgieff MK, Markley LA, Kerling EH, Shaddy DJ.
DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcomes.
Am J Clin Nutr.
2013 February
Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS.

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