DHA Supplements for Mom May Not Help Baby

Prenatal DHA supplementation showed little benefit for children's brains

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(RxWiki News) Taking DHA supplements while you're pregnant isn't likely to help your child's IQ later on, according to a new study.

At age 7, children of mothers who supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) while they were pregnant didn't show stronger cognitive development than children whose mothers didn't take the supplement, this study found.

A type of omega-3 fatty acid, DHA is found in fish oil and breast milk and is available as a supplement. The authors behind the current study noted that sales of this supplement were increasing despite the lack of proven benefit for children's cognitive, motor and language development.

The current study was a seven-year follow-up on a past study that found that prenatal DHA supplements in mothers didn't appear to benefit their children's cognitive development at 18 months old.

Looking at 543 children from the original study, this study found only slight differences between the DHA group and the group whose mothers didn't take DHA during pregnancy. The average IQ of the two groups was nearly identical.

Talk to your doctor before making changes to your medication and supplement routines.

A limitation of this study is the differences in the results between the DHA and control group were very small.

This study was published in JAMA.

The National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian National Health and

Medical Research Council grants provided funding for the research.

Several authors disclosed receiving funding from Nestle Nutrition Institute and other outside​ ​​​​​​sources.

Last Updated:
April 11, 2017