DHA Intake in Pregnancy Tied to Fewer Colds in Infants

Maternal intake of docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy reduces some illness symptoms in infants

MONDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during pregnancy is associated with reduced occurrence of cold symptoms in infants at 1 month, and influences the duration of certain illness symptoms at 1, 3, and 6 months, according to a study published online Aug. 1 in Pediatrics.

Beth Imhoff-Kunsch, M.P.H., Ph.D., from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues investigated the effects of prenatal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity. A total of 1,094 pregnant women were randomly assigned to receive 400 mg DHA or placebo from 18 to 22 weeks' gestation through parturition. Caregivers reported occurrence of common illness symptoms over the previous 15 days in 849, 834, and 834 infants at 1, 3, and 6 months, respectively.

The investigators found that the groups did not show any difference in the occurrence of specific illness symptoms, but the combined measure of cold symptoms occurred less in the DHA group at 1 month (odds ratio, 0.76; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.58 to 1.00). At 1 month, the DHA group experienced a significantly longer duration of rash (22 percent) and significantly shorter duration of cough, phlegm, and wheezing (26, 15, and 30 percent, respectively). The infants in the DHA group spent significantly less time ill at 3 months (14 percent). The infants in the DHA group experienced significantly longer duration of vomiting at 6 months (74 percent), with duration of fever, nasal secretion, difficult breathing, rash, and other illness significantly shorter by 20, 13, 54, 23, and 25 percent, respectively.

"DHA supplementation during pregnancy decreased the occurrence of colds in children at 1 month and influenced illness symptom duration at 1, 3, and 6 months," the authors write.

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