(HealthDay News) — Prenatal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation is not associated with improved cognitive outcomes at four-year follow-up, according to a research letter published in the May 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on child health. This issue was released early to coincide with the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 3–6 in Vancouver, Canada.

Maria Makrides, PhD, from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide, and colleagues examined the long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes of prenatal DHA supplementation. Pregnant women were randomly allocated to receive DHA or matched placebo during pregnancy. A total of 646 children were included in analyses from the four-year follow-up (313 in the DHA group; 333 in the control group).

The researchers observed no difference between the groups in the mean General Conceptual Ability (GCA) scores (mean difference, 0.29; P=0.73). No between-group difference was seen in the percentage of children with delayed or advanced GCA scores. There were also no differences observed in other objective assessments of cognition, language, and executive functioning. Poorer scores were observed on some parentally reported scales of executive functioning and behavior. There was no between-group difference in diagnoses of autism and hyperactivity disorders.

“Our data do not support prenatal DHA supplementation to enhance early childhood development,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the nutrition industry. Treatment and control capsules were donated by Efamol.

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