The omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is most concentrated in the brain. This nutrient is well known to be important for brain development of infants. DHA is most rapidly accumulated in the brain during pregnancy, which is why prenatal DHA intake is widely recommended.

Despite these recommendations, however, American women are not getting enough. “US women typically consume less DHA than women in most of the developed world,” stated Susan Carlson, PhD, who directed a study that found infants born to women who took 600 mg DHA supplementation during the second half of pregnancy weighed more and were less likely to be very low birth weight and born before 34 weeks gestation when compared to infants born of women who took placebo.

“A reduction in early preterm and very low birth weight delivery could have clear clinical and public health significance,” Carlson stated. “We believe that supplementing US women with DHA could safely increase mean birth weight and gestational age to numbers that are closer to other developed countries such as Norway and Australia.”

The study will continue to follow the children to determine if prenatal DHA supplementation will affect children’s intelligence and school readiness. This study adds to similar studies, some of which Dr. Smith and I have blogged on. In all, we definitely recommend prenatal DHA supplementation for infant development.