Maternal DHA supplementation helps infant’s problem solving

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

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