DHA Supplements Don't Prevent Postpartum Depression

No cognitive benefit seen for children of mothers who took DHA
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The results of the large, multicenter DOMInO (DHA to Optimize Mother Infant Outcome) trial do not support routine docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation for pregnant women to reduce depressive symptoms or to improve cognitive or language outcomes in early childhood, according to research published in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To assess the efficacy of DHA in the prevention of postpartum depression in mothers and the improvement of cognitive test scores in their offspring, Maria Makrides, Ph.D., of the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues conducted a trial of DHA-rich fish oil capsules compared with vegetable oil capsules in pregnant women. Women were enrolled at <21 weeks gestation and took 800 mg/d of DHA.

The researchers found that, in the first six postpartum months, there was no significant difference in the incidence of maternal depressive symptoms between the groups. Babies, tested at 6 weeks and 6 months of age, also had no significant differences in their test scores between groups.

"Fish oil supplements are safe, well tolerated, and reduce risks for early preterm birth, which is associated with poor neurocognitive outcomes and maternal depression," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "For now, pregnant women should take care to get the recommended intake of 200 mg/d of DHA, either by including low-mercury, high-DHA fish in their diets or by taking a daily n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplement. The benefit of higher intakes remains unclear."

Two of the authors disclosed serving on scientific advisory boards for Nutricia and/or Nestle and Fonterra.

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