BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA. Maternal intake of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in the US and Canada is generally far below the currently recommend amount of 300 mg/day. This could have serious implications for the neurologic development of infants. Researchers at the Louisiana State University completed a study to determine if regular consumption by pregnant women of a cereal bar fortified with DHA would improve the problem-solving ability of their infants.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 29 women who were randomized to receive 5 DHA-fortified cereal bars a week (providing 214 mg/day of DHA and 27 mg/day of EPA) or placebo bars (containing corn oil) from week 24 of gestation to delivery. The women in the DHA group tended to give birth 1 week later than those in the placebo group and there was also a trend for their infants to be slightly taller.
At 9 months of age the infants participating in the trial were exposed to a problem-solving test involving finding and retrieving a toy. The infants born to mothers who had supplemented with DHA scored significantly higher on this test than did infants born to mothers who had not supplemented. A recognition memory test was also administered, but no differences in results were observed between the two groups. The researchers conclude that DHA supplementation during pregnancy has a beneficial effect on the infant’s problem-solving skills at 9 months of age.
Judge, MP, et al. Maternal consumption of a docosahexaenoic acid-containing functional food during pregnancy. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, 2007, pp. 1572-77