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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;89(2):678S-84S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26811E. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in pregnancy and lactation.

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Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.


The goal of the Experimental Biology symposium on maternal supplementation was to review all available lines of evidence, delineate unanswered questions, and develop, if it seemed reasonable, a research agenda to determine whether maternal supplementation with specific nutrients might be beneficial. In the case of maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status, the topic addressed in this article, few clinical studies show benefits of maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy or lactation for the infant or child. However, quite a large number of observational studies link higher intrauterine DHA exposure to a number of positive developmental outcomes. This article reviews the factors known to contribute to DHA status of women and their offspring during the reproductive cycle, relates maternal DHA status to that of the developing fetus and newborn, and reviews the evidence for functional differences in behavior related to DHA status, including the available evidence related to DHA supplementation of women pregnant and lactating and their offspring. Other outcomes for infants and children and for women themselves appear plausible and are also addressed as part of a research agenda for future work.

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