Study Reviews

Antenatal DHA supplementation could have beneficial effects on the body composition of children

  • 05/25/2018
Besides water, the other two fundamental body components are lean tissue (highly varied and including bones, muscles, extracellular water, nerve tissue and other non-adipocyte cells) and adipose tissue. 
The University of Kansas Department of Dietetics and Nutrition carried out a study to investigate the relationship between intrauterine exposure to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and body composition at 5 years of age in 154 children of women who had participated in an antenatal DHA supplementation trial (Kansas University DHA Outcomes Study). The participants in this trial had low-risk pregnancies in the Kansas City area and were recruited in the period from March 2006 to September 2009.
The women were randomly assigned to receive 600 mg/d of DHA or placebo (corn and soy oil) and the RBC levels of fatty acids (bound to phospholipids) were measured at the start of the trial and on giving birth. The body composition of the children was assessed (by air displacement plethysmography) when they were 5 years old. The change in red blood cell (RBC) levels of DHA in the mothers during pregnancy correlated to greater fat-free mass (p = 0.0088) in the children. The children whose mothers were supplemented with DHA had an average of 1.3 lb (0.59 kg) more fat-free mass (but the same amount of total fat) compared to the children of mothers in the placebo group.
No correlations with other body measurements were observed.
This suggests that improving maternal nutrition through antenatal supplementation with DHA could have beneficial effects on the body composition of children. 

Hidaka BH, Thodosoff JM, Kerling EH, Hull HR, Colombo J, Carlson SE. Intrauterine DHA exposure and child body composition at 5 y: exploratory analysis of a randomized controlled trial of prenatal DHA supplementation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018;107(1):35-42.

Carbajal A. Manual de nutrición y dietética. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. 2013 [fecha de acceso: 10/04/2018]. Available at: