Two Studies Recommend DHA Supplementation During Pregnancy
The last 3 months of pregnancy is a period of rapid increase in brain volume of an infant. It is a time when docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) accumulates in the brain and eye of the developing child. Because humans are extremely inefficient at converting α-linolenic acid (ALA) to DHA, it is important for women, especially when pregnant or lactating, eat seafood or use dietary supplements to obtain adequate amounts of DHA.
The Kansas University DHA Outcomes Study (KUDOS) examined the effect of supplementing 600 mg DHA per day (vs placebo) during pregnancy on the risk of early preterm births. In an analysis of 197 mother-infant dyads, Shireman and colleagues report DHA supplementation produced a hospital cost saving of $US 1,678 per infant. After adjusting for the estimated cost of the DHA supplement and slightly higher maternal care cost in the DHA treatment group, the net savings per dyad was $US 1,484 per infant. Extrapolating to nearly 4 million US deliveries per year, the authors conclude that DHA supplementation during the second and third trimester could save $6 billion in US health care costs.
This study comes on the heels of an Australian study reporting a $AU 92 savings per singleton pregnancy with DHA supplementation. Ahmed and colleagues estimated that the Australian public hospital system could save between $AU 15-51.
With >81% of Americans have suboptimal EPA+DHA status, the question posed by Harry Rice, VP of regulatory and scientific affairs for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) to Stephen Daniells of Nutraingredients is so very compelling.
“Imagine what the savings or return on investment would be if you considered the potential for EPA/DHA to decrease disability adjusted life years?”
Shireman TI, Kerling EH, Gajewski BJ, Colombo J, Carlson SE. Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation (DHA) and the return on investment for pregnancy outcomes. 2016 PLEFA doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2016.05.008
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