DHA May Have Beneficial Effects on Babies' Problem Solving Abilities

4/1/2008

Another new study shows the benefit of DHA during pregnancy for brain development. Twenty-nine pregnant women ages 18 to 35, at less than 20 weeks gestation, were gievn 300 mg of DHA (5 soft gels per week) a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Researchers tested the effects of DHA on the infants' behavior and the problem-solving abilities at 9 months of age. Researchers also observed the possible effect of DHA on gestational times.

The babies of the pregnant women who were given the DHA scored higher on problem solving tests. DHA may help by improving developing neurons in the babies' brains before birth. The researchers of the study believe that DHA given to pregnant women has long-term effects and that this heightened ability at 9 months for problem solving may be indicative of improved mental processing throughout childhood. Thus, DHA given in utero may have long-term beneficial effects on children's performance.

Also, the group of babies born to women taking the DHA had longer gestational periods, compared to babies of the group without the DHA supplementation. A longer gestational period may help babies by allowing for more central nervous system development.

Judge, Harel and Lammi-Keefe. "Maternal consumption of a docosahexaenoic acid-containing functional food during pregnancy: benefit for infant performance of problem-solving, but not on recognition memory tasks at 9 mo." Am J Clin Nutr., 2007;85:1572-7.

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