September 01, 2011
1 min read

Maternal DHA supplementation may stave off colds in infants

Imhoff-Kunsch B. Pediatrics. 2011; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-1386.

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Consuming omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy may help prevent colds during early infancy, according to a study published online this week.

Usha Ramakrishnan, PhD, who is an associate professor at the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, and colleagues examined data from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that included 1,100 pregnant women and 900 infants in Mexico. The women were administered daily either 400 mg of docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) supplements in the algal form or placebo from 18 to 22 weeks’ gestation through childbirth.

Researchers found those infants whose mothers took DHA supplements had fewer colds and shorter illnesses at 1, 3 and 6 months of age.

“This is a large-scale, robust study that underscores the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy,” Ramakrishnan said in a press release. “Our findings indicate that pregnant women taking 400 mg of DHA are more likely to deliver healthier infants.”

At 1 month of age, the infants in the DHA group experienced a reduced occurrence of cold symptoms by 25%, including a shorter duration of cough, phlegm and wheezing. (P<.01).

At age 3 months, the infants in the DHA group spent 14% less time ill than children whose mothers took placebo. At 6 months of age, infants in the DHA group experienced shorter duration of fever, nasal secretion, difficulty breathing and rash, though longer duration of vomiting.

Disclosures: The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes Foundation.

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