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Nutr Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;26(4):445-50. doi: 10.1177/0884533611406133. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Consumption of DHA + EPA by low-income women during pregnancy and lactation.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Grand Valley State University, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI 49401, USA.



The ω-3-fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important in infant brain development and maturation. The advisable intake of the ω-3 fatty acids DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) for pregnant and lactating women is 300 mg/d or 9 g/month. The objective of this cross-sectional study was to test the hypothesis that low-income pregnant/or lactating women do not consume advisable amounts of DHA+EPA and to determine whether any of the measured demographic factors were related to DHA and EPA consumption.


This study was conducted September 2007 to March 2008 and used the N-3 Fatty Acid Food Frequency Questionnaire for dietary assessment in a convenience sample of women (N = 68) enrolled in a local maternal infant health program. Women who reported fish or seafood allergies were excluded. The monthly consumption of DHA+EPA from food sources was measured, and participant race, ethnicity, country of origin, primary language, level of education, marital status, intake of prenatal vitamins containing DHA+EPA, and warnings of fish toxicity were assessed. The data were analyzed using 1-way analysis of variance and t tests.


The average reported DHA+EPA intake was 1.18 g/month across all race/ethnicities. African Americans consumed significantly more DHA+EPA, 2.79 g/month, compared with Hispanics (1.64 g) and Caucasians (0.93 g). United States natives consumed significantly more DHA+EPA than immigrants (2.45 g vs 1.55 g).


Low-income pregnant/and lactating women in the study consumed less than the advisable amounts of DHA+EPA. Both ethnicity and country of origin are related to DHA+EPA intake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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