Higher DHA in cord blood results in better neurological outcome at 5.5 years of age

Objective: To determine the impact of maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy on neurological development of their children.

Method: This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included 315 healthy pregnant women from Spain, Germany and Hungary who took either fish oil providing 500 mg/day DHA + 150 mg/day EPA, or 400 μg/day 5-methytetrahydrofolate, both , or placebo from week 20 of gestation until delivery. The following assessments were completed:

1) Maternal red blood cell (RBC) and plasma fatty acids at Week 20 and 30 of pregnancy

2) Maternal and cord blood fatty acids at delivery

3) Neurological development was assessed by:

a) Hempel Examination at age 4 years

b) Touwen Examination at 5.5 years

Findings:  1) Minor neurological dysfunction, neurological optimality score (NOS) and fluency score did not differ between groups at either age, but the odds of children with maximal NOS scores increased with every unit increment in cord blood DHA at delivery in plasma phospholipids [95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.094-2.262], RBC phosphatidylethanolamine (PC) [95% CI: 1.091-2.417] and RBC phsphatidylcholine (PC) [95% CI: 1.003-2.643].

Conclusion:  Higher DHA in cord blood results in better neurological outcome at 5.5 years of age.

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