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1.  A maternal erythrocyte DHA content of approximately 6 g% is the DHA status at which intrauterine DHA biomagnifications turns into bioattenuation and postnatal infant DHA equilibrium is reached 
European Journal of Nutrition  2011;51(6):665-675.
Higher long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) in infant compared with maternal lipids at delivery is named biomagnification. The decline of infant and maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status during lactation in Western countries suggests maternal depletion. We investigated whether biomagnification persists at lifelong high fish intakes and whether the latter prevents a postpartum decline of infant and/or maternal DHA status.
We studied 3 Tanzanian tribes with low (Maasai: 0/week), intermediate (Pare: 2–3/week), and high (Sengerema: 4–5/week) fish intakes. DHA and arachidonic acid (AA) were determined in maternal (m) and infant (i) erythrocytes (RBC) during pregnancy (1st trimester n = 14, 2nd = 103, 3rd = 88), and in mother–infant pairs at delivery (n = 63) and at 3 months postpartum (n = 104).
At delivery, infants of all tribes had similar iRBC-AA which was higher than, and unrelated to, mRBC-AA. Transplacental DHA biomagnification occurred up to 5.6 g% mRBC-DHA; higher mRBC-DHA was associated with “bioattenuation” (i.e., iRBC-DHA < mRBC-DHA). Compared to delivery, mRBC-AA after 3 months was higher, while iRBC-AA was lower. mRBC-DHA after 3 months was lower, while iRBC-DHA was lower (low fish intake), equal (intermediate fish intake), and higher (high fish intake) compared to delivery. We estimated that postpartum iRBC-DHA equilibrium is reached at 5.9 g%, which corresponds to a mRBC-DHA of 6.1 g% throughout pregnancy.
Uniform high iRBC-AA at delivery might indicate the importance of intrauterine infant AA status. Biomagnification reflects low maternal DHA status, and bioattenuation may prevent intrauterine competition of DHA with AA. A mRBC-DHA of about 6 g% during pregnancy predicts maternal–fetal equilibrium at delivery, postnatal iRBC-DHA equilibrium, but is unable to prevent a postnatal mRBC-DHA decline.
PMCID: PMC3419349  PMID: 21952690
Biomagnification; Bioattenuation; Pregnancy; Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; Docosahexaenoic acid; Arachidonic acid; Equilibrium
2.  Randomized Controlled Trial of Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation in Midwestern U.S. Human Milk Donors 
Breastfeeding Medicine  2013;8(1):86-91.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid important for neonatal neurodevelopment and immune homeostasis. Preterm infants fed donor milk from a Midwestern source receive only 20% of the intrauterine accretion of DHA. We tested the hypothesis that DHA supplementation of donor mothers would provide preterm infants with DHA intake equivalent to fetal accretion.
Subjects and Methods
After Institutional Review Board approval and informed consent, human milk donors to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio were randomized to receive 1 g of DHA (Martek® [now DSM Nutritional Lipids, Columbia, MD]) or placebo soy oil. Dietary intake data were collected and analyzed by a registered dietitian. Fatty acids were measured by gas chromatography/flame ionization detection. Statistical analysis used linear mixed models.
Twenty-one mothers were randomly assigned to either the DHA group (n=10) or the placebo group (n=11). Donor age was a median of 31 years in both groups with a mean lactational stage of 19 weeks. Dietary intake of DHA at baseline in both groups was a median of 23 mg/day (range, 0–194 mg), significantly (p<0.0001) less than the minimum recommended intake of 200 mg/day. The DHA content of milk increased in the DHA-supplemented group (p<0.05).
The women enrolled in this study had low dietary DHA intake. Supplementation with preformed DHA at 1 g/day resulted in increased DHA concentrations in the donor milk with no adverse outcomes. Infants fed donor milk from supplemented women receive dietary DHA levels that closely mimic normal intrauterine accretion during the third trimester.
PMCID: PMC3566653  PMID: 22568471
3.  The mothers, Omega-3 and mental health study 
Major depressive disorder (MDD) during pregnancy and postpartum depression are associated with significant maternal and neonatal morbidity. While antidepressants are readily used in pregnancy, studies have raised concerns regarding neurobehavioral outcomes in exposed infants. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, most frequently from fish oil, has emerged as a possible treatment or prevention strategy for MDD in non-pregnant individuals, and may have beneficial effects in pregnant women. Although published observational studies in the psychiatric literature suggest that maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) deficiency may lead to the development of MDD in pregnancy and postpartum, there are more intervention trials suggesting clinical benefit for supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in MDD.
The Mothers, Omega-3 and Mental Health study is a double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trial to assess whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may prevent antenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms among pregnant women at risk for depression. We plan to recruit 126 pregnant women at less than 20 weeks gestation from prenatal clinics at two health systems in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the surrounding communities. We will follow them prospectively over the course of their pregnancies and up to 6 weeks postpartum. Enrolled participants will be randomized to one of three groups: a) EPA-rich fish oil supplement (1060 mg EPA plus 274 mg DHA) b) DHA-rich fish oil supplement (900 mg DHA plus 180 mg EPA; or c) a placebo. The primary outcome for this study is the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score at 6 weeks postpartum. We will need to randomize 126 women to have 80% power to detect a 50% reduction in participants' mean BDI scores with EPA or DHA supplementation compared with placebo. We will also gather information on secondary outcome measures which will include: omega-3 fatty acid concentrations in maternal plasma and cord blood, pro-inflammatory cytokine levels (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α) in maternal and cord blood, need for and dosage of antidepressant medications, and obstetrical outcomes. Analyses will be by intent to treat.
This study compares the relative effectiveness of DHA and EPA at preventing depressive symptoms among pregnant women at risk.
Trial registration
Clinical trial registration number: NCT00711971
PMCID: PMC3146889  PMID: 21696635
4.  Maternal long-chain PUFA supplementation during protein deficiency improves brain fatty acid accretion in rat pups by altering the milk fatty acid composition of the dam 
Long-chain PUFA (LC-PUFA) are important for fetal and neonatal brain development. However, their accretion in the brain is compromised during maternal protein restriction. Hence, we investigated the effect of maternal supplementation with n-3 DHA plus n-6 arachidonic acid (ARA) at a low protein level (9 %) on offspring brain fatty acid accretion using Wistar rats (nine rats per group) randomly fed a control (C), a low-protein (LP) or a low-protein DHA + ARA-supplemented (LPS) diet during gestation and lactation. At birth, pups from the LPS group had the highest brain DHA and n-3 fatty acid levels (P = 0·001), whereas pups from the LP group had the highest MUFA (P = 0·05) but the lowest DHA and total n-3 PUFA levels (P = 0·000). During lactation, pups from the LPS group accrued significantly more α-linolenic acid (P = 0·003), EPA (P = 0·02) and DHA (P = 0·000) in brain lipids than pups from the LP group, whereas brain lipids of pups from the LP group had markedly increased levels of the n-3 deficiency marker docosapentaenoic acid and n-6:n-3 ratio (P = 0·000). Owing to supplementation, milk from LPS dams had the highest DHA and ARA, but lower SCFA and medium-chain fatty acids as compared with milk from C and LP dams during early lactation, but normalised by mid-lactation. To conclude, adverse effects of restricted maternal protein intake on LC-PUFA accretion in the brain of offspring were ameliorated by alterations in maternal milk fatty acid profile due to supplementation. Results underscore the importance of LC-PUFA for protein-deficient mothers during gestation as well as lactation to achieve the optimum brain LC-PUFA status of progeny.
PMCID: PMC4153033  PMID: 25191591
Long-chain PUFA; Maternal supplementation; Protein restriction; Brain lipids; Milk lipid composition; ALA, α-linolenic acid; ARA, arachidonic acid; LA, linoleic acid; LC-PUFA, long-chain PUFA; LP, low protein; LPS, low protein DHA + ARA supplemented
5.  The Mothers, Omega-3, and Mental Health Study: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial 
Maternal deficiency of the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has been associated with perinatal depression, but there is evidence that supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) may be more effective than DHA in treating depressive symptoms. This trial tested the relative effects of EPA- and DHA-rich fish oils on prevention of depressive symptoms among pregnant women at an increased risk of depression.
We enrolled 126 pregnant women at risk for depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score 9–19 or a history of depression) in early pregnancy and randomly assigned them to receive EPA-rich fish oil (1060 mg EPA plus 274 mg DHA), DHA-rich fish oil (900 mg DHA plus 180 mg EPA), or soy oil placebo. Subjects completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview at enrollment, 26–28 weeks, 34–36 weeks, and at 6–8 weeks’ postpartum. Serum fatty acids were analyzed at entry and at 34–36 weeks’ gestation.
One hundred eighteen women completed the trial. There were no differences between groups in BDI scores or other depression endpoints at any of the 3 time points after supplementation. The EPA-and DHA-rich fish oil groups exhibited significantly increased post-supplementation concentrations of serum EPA and serum DHA respectively. Serum DHA- concentrations at 34–36 weeks were inversely related to BDI scores in late pregnancy.
EPA-rich fish oil and DHA-rich fish oil supplementation did not prevent depressive symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum.
PMCID: PMC4010222  PMID: 23531328
depression; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; fish oil; supplementation
6.  Maternal docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy and visual evoked potential development in term infants: a double blind, prospective, randomised trial 
Aim: To test the hypothesis that maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during pregnancy enhances maturation of the visual evoked potential (VEP) in healthy term infants.
Methods: One hundred women were supplemented with either fish oil capsules rich in DHA (n = 50) or placebo capsules (n = 50) from week 15 of pregnancy until delivery. Total fatty acids in red blood cells and plasma were measured at weeks 15, 28, and 40 of pregnancy and at delivery in umbilical cord blood. Infant visual pathway development was assessed using VEPs recorded to flash stimuli shortly after birth and to both flash and pattern-reversal stimuli at 50 and 66 weeks post-conceptional age (PCA).
Results: Maternal supplementation did not significantly elevate the level of DHA in umbilical cord blood. Moreover, there were no significant differences in any of the VEP measures observed between supplementation groups. However, maturity of the pattern-reversal VEP at 50 and 66 weeks PCA was associated with DHA status of the infants at birth. Infants with higher DHA status, both as a concentration and as a percentage of total fatty acids, showed shorter P100 peak latencies of the pattern-reversal VEP than those with lower DHA status.
Conclusions: Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy did not enhance VEP maturation in healthy term infants. However, these results show an association between the DHA status of infants at term and early postnatal development of the pattern-reversal VEP, suggesting that DHA status itself may influence maturation of the central visual pathways.
PMCID: PMC1721603  PMID: 12937042
7.  Prenatal Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation and Infant Morbidity: Randomized Controlled Trial 
Pediatrics  2011;128(3):e505-e512.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) influence immune function and inflammation; however, the influence of maternal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity is unknown. We investigated the effects of prenatal DHA supplementation on infant morbidity.
In a double-blind randomized controlled trial conducted in Mexico, pregnant women received daily supplementation with 400 mg of DHA or placebo from 18 to 22 weeks' gestation through parturition. In infants aged 1, 3, and 6 months, caregivers reported the occurrence of common illness symptoms in the preceding 15 days.
Data were available at 1, 3, and 6 months for 849, 834, and 834 infants, respectively. The occurrence of specific illness symptoms did not differ between groups; however, the occurrence of a combined measure of cold symptoms was lower in the DHA group at 1 month (OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.58–1.00). At 1 month, the DHA group experienced 26%, 15%, and 30% shorter duration of cough, phlegm, and wheezing, respectively, but 22% longer duration of rash (all P ≤ .01). At 3 months, infants in the DHA group spent 14% less time ill (P < .0001). At 6 months, infants in the DHA group experienced 20%, 13%, 54%, 23%, and 25% shorter duration of fever, nasal secretion, difficulty breathing, rash, and “other illness,” respectively, but 74% longer duration of vomiting (all P < .05).
DHA supplementation during pregnancy decreased the occurrence of colds in children at 1 month and influenced illness symptom duration at 1, 3, and 6 months.
PMCID: PMC3164093  PMID: 21807696
DHA; omega-3 fatty acids; prenatal; infant; morbidity
8.  Comparison of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid content in human milk in preterm and term deliveries and its correlation with mothers’ diet 
Human milk (HM) is the main food for infants, and phospholipids, especially long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), play an essential role in the growth and brain development. This study was designed to evaluate the fatty acid composition in HM of mothers with preterm and full-term newborns and to determine the relationships of dietary intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) of mothers and the content of these fatty acids in their milks.
Materials and Methods:
The AA and DHA of HM were determined by gas chromatography at the 3rd day after birth from mothers of 59 term and 58 preterm infants. Mothers were selected from those who delivered in Shahid Beheshti Hospital, a referral teaching hospital affiliated to Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran. Dietary fat composition of mothers was examined by a food-frequency questionnaire. Total fat content, and DHA and AA levels of HM were compared in both groups. The correlation of dietary DHA and AA with DHA and AA of HM was determined in both groups.
We found that maternal age, body mass index (BMI), and self-reported food-frequency questionnaire did not differ in the two groups. The mean AA (0.19 ± 0.10 mg/ml and 0.16 ± 0.09 mg/ml, respectively), DHA (0.10 ± 0.06 mg/ml and 0.08 ± 0.05 mg/ml, respectively), and total fat content (2.58 ± 2.16 g/dl and 2.06 ± 1.22 g/dl, respectively) of HM of mothers with preterm neonates were non-significantly higher than in mothers with term neonates. The percentage of DHA in the HM fat of preterm and term groups (0.45 ± 0.16% and 0.45 ± 0.18%, respectively) and the percentage of AA (0.85 ± 0.26% and 0.84 ± 0.20%, respectively) were comparable with worldwide standards. No correlations were documented between DHA and AA intake and DHA and AA content of HM in both groups.
Although DHA and AA content of HM in preterm group was higher than in term group, this difference were not significant. In Isfahan, the percentage of DHA and AA was acceptable in the milk fat of mothers with term and preterm neonates.
PMCID: PMC3719218  PMID: 23901333
Human milk; polyunsaturated fatty acids; premature neonate
9.  Breast milk docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) correlates with DHA status of malnourished infants 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2000;82(6):493-494.
AIM—To investigate whether low docosahexaenoic acid (22:6ω3; DHA) status of malnourished, mostly breast fed infants is a result of low ω3 fatty acid intake via breast milk.
METHODS—Fatty acid composition of breast milk of eight Pakistani mothers, and of the erythrocytes of their malnourished children was analysed.
RESULTS—The milk of the Pakistani mothers contained low percentages of all ω3 and most ω6 fatty acids, compared with milk of Dutch mothers. Breast milk DHA was positively correlated with infant erythrocyte DHA and arachidonic acid (20:4ω6).
CONCLUSION—DHA status of these malnourished children is strongly dependent on the ω3 fatty acid intake from breast milk. Augmentation of the infants' ω3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid status, or the ω3 and ω6 fatty acid status in general, by supplementation is indicated in deprived circumstances where access to fresh fish is difficult. However, in terms of prevention, maternal supplementation of these long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, preferably from early pregnancy onwards, may be a better option.

PMCID: PMC1718344  PMID: 10833187
10.  Erythrocyte Membrane Fatty Acid Content in Infants Consuming Formulas Supplemented with Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (ARA): an Observational Study 
Maternal & child nutrition  2010;6(4):338-346.
In this observational study, we compared erythrocyte membrane fatty acids in infants consuming formula supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) with those consuming other types of milks. In 110 infants who were participants in a cohort study of otherwise healthy children at risk for developing type 1 diabetes, erythrocytes were collected at approximately 9 months of age, and fatty acid content was measured as a percent of total lipids. Parents reported the type of milk the infants consumed in the month of and prior to erythrocyte collection – infant formula supplemented with ARA and DHA (supplemented formula), formula with no ARA and DHA supplements (non-supplemented formula), breast-milk, or non-supplemented formula plus breast-milk. Membrane DHA (4.42 versus 1.79, p < 0.001) and omega-3 fatty acid (5.81 versus 3.43, p < 0.001) levels were higher in infants consuming supplemented versus non-supplemented formula. Omega-6 fatty acids were lower in infants consuming supplemented versus non-supplemented formula (26.32 versus 29.68, p = 0.023); ARA did not differ between groups. Infants given supplemented formula had higher DHA (4.42 versus 2.81, p < 0.001) and omega-3 fatty acids (5.81 versus 4.45, p = 0.008) than infants drinking breast-milk. In infants whose mothers did not receive any dietary advice, use of supplemented formula is associated with higher omega-3 and lower omega-6 fatty acid status.
PMCID: PMC2992442  PMID: 21050388
Arachidonic Acid; Docosahexaenoic Acid; Breastfeeding; Infant Feeding; Infant Formula; Infant Feeding Behavior
11.  Docosahexaenoic acid in maternal and neonatal plasma phospholipids and milk lipids of Taiwanese women in Kinmen: fatty acid composition of maternal blood, neonatal blood and breast milk 
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) that is critically important for the structure, development and function of the retina and central nervous system (CNS), ultimately contributing to improved cognition. It is known that the DHA content of breast milk is positively correlated with maternal DHA intake. Since there is a lack of information about the DHA status of pregnant and lactating women in rural Taiwan. The aims of the present study were to: 1) assess the DHA status of mothers and babies in urban setting, and 2) determine the content of DHA in the milk of nursing mothers.
All pregnant women who attended the Obstetrics and Gynecology Outpatient Clinic of Kinmen Hospital on Kinmen Island in Taiwan between May 1 and May 30, 2011 were invited by research nurses to enroll in the study. The maternal blood sample was obtained on the day of their delivery. Cord blood was collected by the obstetrician following delivery. Participants were asked to visit the doctor forty-two days after the delivery, at which time a nurse collected breast milk on the day mothers were visiting the doctor for post-natal well-baby check-up.
The DHA percentages of maternal and neonatal plasma phospholipids were 5.16% and 6.36%, respectively, which are higher than values reported for most populations elsewhere in the world. The DHA percentage for the breast milk of Kinmen mothers was also high (0.98%) relation to international norms. The DHA proportions in maternal and neonatal plasma phospholipids were positively correlated (r = 0.46, p = 0.01).
We show that the DHA status of mothers and newborns on Kinmen Island is satisfactory, thereby providing an evidence-based argument for promoting breastfeeding in Taiwan.
PMCID: PMC3608933  PMID: 23496882
Breast milk; Lactation; Neonates; Fish intake; Kinmen; Docosahexaenoic acid; Pregnancy; Fatty acids
12.  Effect of fish oils containing different amounts of EPA, DHA, and antioxidants on plasma and brain fatty acids and brain nitric oxide synthase activity in rats 
Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences  2009;114(4):206-213.
The interest in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has expanded significantly in the last few years, due to their many positive effects described. Consequently, the interest in fish oil supplementation has also increased, and many different types of fish oil supplements can be found on the market. Also, it is well known that these types of fatty acids are very easily oxidized, and that stability among supplements varies greatly.
Aims of the study
In this pilot study we investigated the effects of two different types of natural fish oils containing different amounts of the n-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and antioxidants on plasma and brain fatty acids, blood lipids, vitamin E, and in vivo lipid peroxidation, as well as brain nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity, an enzyme which has been shown to be important for memory and learning ability.
Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups and fed regular rat chow pellets enriched with 5% (w/w) of butter (control group), a natural fish oil (17.4% EPA and 11.7% DHA, referred to as EPA-rich), and a natural fish oil rich in DHA (7.7% EPA and 28.0% DHA, referred to as DHA-rich). Both of the fish oils were stabilized by a commercial antioxidant protection system (Pufanox®) at production. The fourth group received the same DHA-rich oil, but without Pufanox® stabilization (referred to as unstable). As an index of stability of the oils, their peroxide values were repeatedly measured during 9 weeks. The dietary treatments continued until sacrifice, after 10 days.
Stability of the oils varied greatly. It took the two stabilized oils 9 weeks to reach the same peroxide value as the unstable oil reached after only a few days. Both the stabilized EPA- and DHA-rich diets lowered the triacylglycerols and total cholesterol compared to control (-45%, P < 0.05 and -54%, P < 0.001; -31%, P < 0.05 and -25%, P < 0.01) and so did the unstable oil, but less efficiently. Only the unstable oil increased in vivo lipid peroxidation significantly compared to control (+40%, P < 0.001). Most of the fatty acids in the plasma phospholipids were significantly affected by both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets compared to control, reflecting their specific fatty acid pattern. The unstable oil diet resulted in smaller changes, especially in n-3 PUFAs. In the brain phospholipids the changes were less pronounced, and only the diet enriched with the stabilized DHA-rich oil resulted in a significantly greater incorporation of DHA (+13%, P < 0.01), as well as total n-3 PUFAs (+13%, P < 0.01) compared to control. Only the stabilized DHA-rich oil increased the brain NOS activity (+33%, P < 0.01).
Both the EPA- and DHA-rich diets affected the blood lipids in a similarly positive manner, and they both had a large impact on plasma phospholipid fatty acids. It was only the unstable oil that increased in vivo lipid peroxidation. However, the intake of DHA was more important than that of EPA for brain phospholipid DHA enrichment and brain NOS activity, and the stability of the fish oil was also important for these effects.
PMCID: PMC2852776  PMID: 19961266
Antioxidants; brain; DHA; EPA; fish oil; lipid peroxidation; nitric oxide synthase
13.  A pilot randomized controlled trial to promote healthful fish consumption during pregnancy: The Food for Thought Study 
Nutrition Journal  2013;12:33.
Nutritionists advise pregnant women to eat fish to obtain adequate docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential nutrient important for optimal brain development. However, concern exists that this advice will lead to excess intake of methylmercury, a developmental neurotoxicant.
Conduct a pilot intervention to increase consumption of high-DHA, low-mercury fish in pregnancy.
In April-October 2010 we recruited 61 women in the greater Boston, MA area at 12–22 weeks gestation who consumed <=2 fish servings/month, and obtained outcome data from 55. We randomized participants to 3 arms: Advice to consume low-mercury/high-DHA fish (n=18); Advice + grocery store gift cards (GC) to purchase fish (n=17); or Control messages (n=20). At baseline and 12-week follow-up we estimated intake of fish, DHA and mercury using a 1-month fish intake food frequency questionnaire, and measured plasma DHA and blood and hair total mercury.
Baseline characteristics and mean (range) intakes of fish [21 (0–125) g/day] and DHA from fish [91 (0–554) mg/d] were similar in all 3 arms. From baseline to follow-up, intake of fish [Advice: 12 g/day (95% CI: -5, 29), Advice+GC: 22 g/day (5, 39)] and DHA [Advice: 70 mg/d (3, 137), Advice+GC: 161 mg/d (93, 229)] increased in both intervention groups, compared with controls. At follow-up, no control women consumed >= 200mg/d of DHA from fish, compared with 33% in the Advice arm (p=0.005) and 53% in the Advice+GC arm (p=0.0002). We did not detect any differences in mercury intake or in biomarker levels of mercury and DHA between groups.
An educational intervention increased consumption of fish and DHA but not mercury. Future studies are needed to determine intervention effects on pregnancy and childhood health outcomes.
Trial registration
Registered on as NCT01126762
PMCID: PMC3616846  PMID: 23496848
Fish; Pregnancy; Nutrition; Mercury; Omega-3 fatty acid; Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Schizophrenia research  2011;128(1-3):30-36.
It is believed that during mid-to-late gestation, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an n-3 fatty acid, plays an important role in fetal and infant brain development, including neurocognitive and neuromotor functions. Deficits in several such functions have been associated with schizophrenia. Though sufficient levels of DHA appear to be important in neurodevelopment, elevated maternal DHA levels have also been associated with abnormal reproductive outcomes in both animal models and humans. Our objective was to assess whether a disturbance in maternal DHA levels, measured prospectively during pregnancy, was associated with risk of schizophrenia and other schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) in adult offspring. In order to test the hypothesis that abnormal levels of DHA are associated with SSD, a case-control study nested within a large, population-based birth cohort, born from 1959 through 1967 and followed up for SSD from 1981 through 1997, was utilized. Maternal levels of both DHA and of arachidonic acid (AA), an n-6 fatty acid, were analyzed in archived maternal sera from 57 cases of SSD and 95 matched controls. There was a greater than two-fold increased risk of SSD among subjects exposed to maternal serum DHA in the highest tertile (OR=2.38, 95% CI=1.19, 4.76, p=0.01); no such relationship was found between AA and SSD. These findings suggest that elevated maternal DHA is associated with increased risk for the development of SSD in offspring.
PMCID: PMC3085558  PMID: 21324652
docosahexaenoic acid; arachidonic acid; schizophrenia; prenatal
15.  Dietary supplementation with cholesterol and docosahexaenoic acid affects concentrations of amino acids in tissues of young pigs 
Amino acids  2008;37(4):709-716.
Cholesterol and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are important nutrients for neural development of infants. However, little is known about the effect of cholesterol or DHA on concentrations of amino acids (AA) in neonatal tissues. This study was conducted with the piglet (an established model for studying human infant nutrition) to test the hypothesis that dietary supplementation with the lipids may modulate AA availability in tissues. Sixteen newborn pigs were nursed by sows for 24 h and then assigned to one of four treatment groups, representing supplementation with 0.0% (control), 0.2% cholesterol, 0.2% DHA, or cholesterol plus DHA to the basal milk-formula. All piglets were euthanized at 49 days of age. In brain, cholesterol supplementation reduced (P < 0.05) concentrations of glutamate, serine, glutamine, threonine, β-alanine, alanine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, and γ-aminobutyrate but increased (P < 0.05) concentrations of glycine and lysine, whereas DHA supplementation similarly affected (P < 0.05) concentrations of the same AA (except for isoleucine and lysine) and taurine. In addition, concentrations of most AA in liver, muscle and plasma were substantially altered by dietary supplementation of cholesterol and DHA in a tissue-dependent manner. Further, DHA reduced concentrations of carnosine in skeletal muscle, as well as ammonia in both plasma and brain. The results reveal that cholesterol and DHA can regulate AA metabolism and availability in various tissues of piglets. These novel findings have important implications for designing the next generation of infant formula to optimize neonatal growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3716829  PMID: 18972185
Cholesterol; Docosahexaenoic acid; Amino acids; Pigs
16.  DHA Supplementation during Pregnancy and Lactation Affects Infants' Cellular but Not Humoral Immune Response 
Mediators of Inflammation  2011;2011:493925.
Background. It is currently recommended that diet of pregnant mothers contain 200–300 mg DHA/day. Aim. To determine whether DHA supplementation during pregnancy and lactation affects infants' immune response. Methods. 60 women in ≥3rd pregnancy studied; 30 randomly assigned to receive DHA 400 mg/day from 12th week gestation until 4 months postpartum. From breast-fed infants, blood obtained for anti-HBs antibodies, immunoglobulins, lymphocyte subset phenotyping, and intracellular cytokine production. Results. CD4+ lymphocytes did not differ between groups, but CD4CD45RA/CD4 (naïve cells) significantly higher in infants in DHA+ group. Proportion of CD4 and CD8 cells producing IFNγ significantly lower in DHA+ group, with no differences in proportion of IL4-producing cells. Immunoglobulins and anti-HBs levels did not differ between groups. Conclusions. In infants of mothers receiving DHA supplementation, a higher percentage of CD4 naïve cells and decreased CD4 and CD8 IFNγ production is compatible with attenuation of a proinflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC3175709  PMID: 21941411
17.  Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid, Folic Acid, Vitamin D and Iodine on Foetal and Infant Brain Development and Function Following Maternal Supplementation during Pregnancy and Lactation 
Nutrients  2012;4(7):799-840.
Scientific literature is increasingly reporting on dietary deficiencies in many populations of some nutrients critical for foetal and infant brain development and function. Purpose: To highlight the potential benefits of maternal supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other important complimentary nutrients, including vitamin D, folic acid and iodine during pregnancy and/or breast feeding for foetal and/or infant brain development and/or function. Methods: English language systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, cross-sectional and case-control studies were obtained through searches on MEDLINE and the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials from January 2000 through to February 2012 and reference lists of retrieved articles. Reports were selected if they included benefits and harms of maternal supplementation of DHA, vitamin D, folic acid or iodine supplementation during pregnancy and/or lactation. Results: Maternal DHA intake during pregnancy and/or lactation can prolong high risk pregnancies, increase birth weight, head circumference and birth length, and can enhance visual acuity, hand and eye co-ordination, attention, problem solving and information processing. Vitamin D helps maintain pregnancy and promotes normal skeletal and brain development. Folic acid is necessary for normal foetal spine, brain and skull development. Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production necessary for normal brain and nervous system development during gestation that impacts childhood function. Conclusion: Maternal supplementation within recommended safe intakes in populations with dietary deficiencies may prevent many brain and central nervous system malfunctions and even enhance brain development and function in their offspring.
PMCID: PMC3407995  PMID: 22852064
docosahexaenoic acid; DHA; vitamin D; folic acid; iodine; foetal development; infant development; brain function; brain development; eye function
18.  The influence of long chain polyunsaturate supplementation on docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid in baboon neonate central nervous system 
BMC Medicine  2005;3:11.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are major components of the cerebral cortex and visual system, where they play a critical role in neural development. We quantitatively mapped fatty acids in 26 regions of the four-week-old breastfed baboon CNS, and studied the influence of dietary DHA and ARA supplementation and prematurity on CNS DHA and ARA concentrations.
Baboons were randomized into a breastfed (B) and four formula-fed groups: term, no DHA/ARA (T-); term, DHA/ARA supplemented (T+); preterm, no DHA/ARA (P-); preterm and DHA/ARA supplemented (P+). At four weeks adjusted age, brains were dissected and total fatty acids analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.
DHA and ARA are rich in many more structures than previously reported. They are most concentrated in structures local to the brain stem and diencephalon, particularly the basal ganglia, limbic regions, thalamus and midbrain, and comparatively lower in white matter. Dietary supplementation increased DHA in all structures but had little influence on ARA concentrations. Supplementation restored DHA concentrations to levels of breastfed neonates in all regions except the cerebral cortex and cerebellum. Prematurity per se did not exert a strong influence on DHA or ARA concentrations.
1) DHA and ARA are found in high concentration throughout the primate CNS, particularly in gray matter such as basal ganglia; 2) DHA concentrations drop across most CNS structures in neonates consuming formulas with no DHA, but ARA levels are relatively immune to ARA in the diet; 3) supplementation of infant formula is effective at restoring DHA concentration in structures other than the cerebral cortex. These results will be useful as a guide to future investigations of CNS function in the absence of dietary DHA and ARA.
PMCID: PMC1184078  PMID: 15975147
19.  Fatty acid patterns early after premature birth, simultaneously analysed in mothers' food, breast milk and serum phospholipids of mothers and infants 
The supply of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids via the placenta is interrupted in premature infants, making them exclusively dependent on breast milk, which varies in fatty acid (FA) concentrations depending on the mother's diet.
To in a longitudinal study explore the relation between FA status in mothers and infants from an unselected cohort of prematures, not requiring intensive care.
Breast milk and mothers' and infants' plasma phospholipid FA concentrations from birth to 44 weeks of gestational age were analysed and compared with mothers' food intake, assessed using a 3-day diary. Fatty acids were analysed by capillary gas-liquid chromatography.
The energy intake was low in 75% of mothers, and 90% had low intake of essential FAs (EFAs). Dietary linoleic acid (LA, 18:2w6), but not w3 FAs, correlated to concentrations in breast milk. Infants' plasma and breast milk correlated for arachidonic (AA, 20:4w6), eicosapentaenoic (EPA, 20:5w3) and docosahexaenoic (DHA, 22:6w3) acids. A high concentration of mead acid (20:3w9) in the infants at birth correlated negatively to the concentrations of LA, AA and w3 FAs. Infants of mothers who stopped breastfeeding during the study period showed decreased DHA concentrations and increased w6/w3 ratios, with the opposite FA pattern seen in the mothers' plasma.
Although dietary w3 FAs were insufficient in an unselected cohort of mothers of premature infants, breastfeeding resulted in increased levels of DHA in the premature infants at the expense of the mothers, suggesting a general need to increase dietary w3 FAs during pregnancy and lactation.
PMCID: PMC2705369  PMID: 19515230
20.  Differential effect of maternal diet supplementation with α-Linolenic adcid or n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on glial cell phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine fatty acid profile in neonate rat brains 
Dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) are of crucial importance for the development of neural tissues. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a dietary supplementation in n-3 fatty acids in female rats during gestation and lactation on fatty acid pattern in brain glial cells phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS) in the neonates.
Sprague-Dawley rats were fed during the whole gestation and lactation period with a diet containing either docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 0.55%) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 0.75% of total fatty acids) or α-linolenic acid (ALA, 2.90%). At two weeks of age, gastric content and brain glial cell PE and PS of rat neonates were analyzed for their fatty acid and dimethylacetal (DMA) profile. Data were analyzed by bivariate and multivariate statistics.
In the neonates from the group fed with n-3 LC-PUFA, the DHA level in gastric content (+65%, P < 0.0001) and brain glial cell PE (+18%, P = 0.0001) and PS (+15%, P = 0.0009) were significantly increased compared to the ALA group. The filtered correlation analysis (P < 0.05) underlined that levels of dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), DHA and n-3 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) were negatively correlated with arachidonic acid (ARA) and n-6 DPA in PE of brain glial cells. No significant correlation between n-3 and n-6 LC-PUFA were found in the PS dataset. DMA level in PE was negatively correlated with n-6 DPA. DMA were found to occur in brain glial cell PS fraction; in this class DMA level was correlated negatively with DHA and positively with ARA.
The present study confirms that early supplementation of maternal diet with n-3 fatty acids supplied as LC-PUFA is more efficient in increasing n-3 in brain glial cell PE and PS in the neonate than ALA. Negative correlation between n-6 DPA, a conventional marker of DHA deficiency, and DMA in PE suggests n-6 DPA that potentially be considered as a marker of tissue ethanolamine plasmalogen status. The combination of multivariate and bivariate statistics allowed to underline that the accretion pattern of n-3 LC-PUFA in PE and PS differ.
PMCID: PMC2819247  PMID: 20148111
21.  A cross-sectional study of docosahexaenoic acid status and cognitive outcomes in females of reproductive age with phenylketonuria 
Diet therapy for phenylketonuria (PKU) requires restricted phenylalanine (Phe) intake, with the majority of protein and other nutrients coming from synthetic medical food. The fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important in brain development and function; however, there are reports of low blood DHA concentrations in people treated for PKU. Although the implications of this low blood DHA are unclear, subtle cognitive deficits have been reported in those treated early and continuously for PKU. For this study, we investigated the relationship between DHA status and cognitive performance in 41 females 12 years and older with PKU. Participants were attending the baseline visit of a research-based camp or a supplementation trial. We assessed the domains of verbal ability, processing speed, and executive function using standardized tests, and the proportions of DHA in plasma and red blood cell (RBC) total lipids using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Percent plasma and RBC total lipid DHA were significantly lower in the participants compared with laboratory controls (P < .001), and participants consumed no appreciable DHA according to diet records. Plasma and RBC DHA both negatively correlated with plasma Phe (P < .02), and performance on the verbal ability task positively correlated with RBC DHA controlling for plasma Phe (R=.32, P=.03). The relationship between DHA and domains related to verbal ability, such as learning and memory, should be confirmed in a controlled trial. Domains of processing speed and executive function may require a larger sample size to clarify any association with DHA.
PMCID: PMC4227302  PMID: 21305356
22.  U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003–2008 
Nutrition Journal  2014;13:31.
The American Heart Association’s Strategic Impact Goal Through 2020 and Beyond recommends ≥ two 3.5-oz fish servings per week (preferably oily fish) partly to increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). We examined the intake of total fish, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, α-linolenic acid, EPA, and DHA in U.S. adults (19 + years) using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2008.
Usual intakes from foods alone and from foods plus dietary supplements were determined using the methods from the National Cancer Institute.
Mean usual intake of total fish and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids was 0.61 ± 0.03 and 0.15 ± 0.03 oz/day, 0.43 and 0.07 respectively. Total fish and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids median intake was 0.43 and 0.07 oz/day, respectively. Intake from foods alone for ALA, EPA and DHA was 1.5 ± 0.01 g/d, 23 ± 7 mg/d and 63 ± 2 mg/d, respectively. ALA, EPA and DHA from food only median intakes were 1.4 g/d, 18 mg/d and 50 mg/d, respectively. Intake of ALA, EPA and DHA from foods and dietary supplements was 1.6 ± 0.04 g/d, 41 ± 4 mg/d and 72 ± 4 mg/d, respectively. While intakes of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids were higher in older adults (0.13 ± 0.01 oz/d for those 19–50 yrs and 0.19 ± 0.02 oz/d for those 51+ year; p < 0.01) and in males as compared to females (0.18 ± 0.02 vs 0.13 ± 0.01 oz/d, respectively; p < 0.05), few consumed recommended levels. Males also had higher (p < 0.05) intake of EPA and DHA from foods and dietary supplements relative to females (44 ± 6 vs 39 ± 4 and 90 ± 7 vs 59 ± 4 mg/d, respectively) and older adults had higher intakes of EPA, but not DHA compared to younger adults (EPA: 34 ± 3 vs 58 ± 9, p < 0.05; DHA: 68 ± 4 vs 81 ± 6, p < 0.05).
As omega-3 fatty acids are deemed important from authoritative bodies, supplementation in addition to food sources may need to be considered to help U.S. adults meet recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3992162  PMID: 24694001
NHANES; Usual intake; Fish; Omega-3 fatty acids; EPA; DHA; Cardiovascular
23.  The effects of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation on brain tissue oxidative status in aged wistar rats 
Hippokratia  2012;16(3):241-245.
Background: The omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in many physiological processes. Their effect is well documented in neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory diseases. Also, aging as a biophysiological process could be influenced by eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) components of fish oil. However there are not many studies showing the effect of PUFA (polyunsaturated FA) suplementation in eldery brain functions and the response to oxidative strees. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on levels of lipid peroxidation and oxidant/antioxidant status of brain tissue in aged (24 months old) Wistar rats.
Methods: Animals were divided in two groups. Control group (n=8) was fed with standard laboratory food and received water ad libitum. Treated group (n=8) was also fed with standard laboratory food, water ad libitum and received fish oil capsules (EPA+DHA) for 6 weeks. Daily dose was 30mg EPA and 45mg DHA (capsules: 200mg EPA and 300mg DHA; in-house method). At the end of treatment animals were sacrificed and brains were collected and frozen on -80ºC. The levels of lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde - MDA), activity of catalase (CAT) and activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) were examined in cerebral cortex. Catalase activity was determined by measuring the decrease in absorbance (H2O2 degradation) at 240 nm for 3 min and expressed as U/mg protein. Total SOD (superoxide dismutase) activity was performed at room temperature according to the method of Misra and Fridovich. The extent of lipid peroxidation (LPO) was estimated as the concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive product malondialdehyde (MDA) by using the method of Aruoma et al. The incorporation of fatty acids in cellular membranes was confirmed by gas chromatography.
Results: Our results showed that lipid peroxidation significantly decreased in treated animal group, where MDA concentration was 0.38±0.001 vs. 0.43±0.001 nM/ml (p<0.05) in control. However SOD activity increased significantly in treated animal group 1.57±0.24 vs. 4.12±0.15 U/gHb/L (p<0.01) in control. CAT activity decreased in treated group but not significantly.
Conclusion: Incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids after their supplementation had beneficial effects on brain tissue. Omega-3 fatty acids increased activity of SOD and decreased lipid peroxidation. Changes in oxidative/antioxidative balance are a result of EPA and DHA effects on lipids and enzymes of antioxidative system.
PMCID: PMC3738731  PMID: 23935291
fish oil; omega 3 fatty acids; rats; aging; brain; oxidative stress
24.  Effects of increasing docosahexaenoic acid intake in human healthy volunteers on lymphocyte activation and monocyte apoptosis 
The British Journal of Nutrition  2008;101(6):852-858.
Dietary intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) has been reported to decrease several markers of lymphocyte activation and modulate monocyte susceptibility to apoptosis. However most human studies examined the combined effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) using relatively high daily amounts of n-3 PUFA. The present study investigated the effects of increasing doses of DHA added to the regular diet of human healthy volunteers on lymphocyte response to tetradecanoylphorbol acetate (TPA) plus ionomycin activation, and on monocyte apoptosis induced by oxidized LDL (oxLDL). Eight subjects were supplemented with increasing daily doses of DHA (200, 400, 800 and 1600mg) in a triacylglycerol form containing DHA as the only PUFA, for two weeks each dose. DHA intake dose-dependently increased the proportion of DHA in mononuclear cell phospholipids, the augmentation being significant after 400mg DHA/day. The TPA plus ionomycin-stimulated IL-2 mRNA level started to increase after ingestion of 400mg DHA/day, with a maximum after 800mg intake, and was positively correlated (P<0.003) with DHA enrichment in cell phospholipids. The treatment of monocytes by oxLDL before DHA supplementation drastically reduced mitochondrial membrane potential as compared with native LDL treatment. OxLDL apoptotic effect was significantly attenuated after 400mg DHA/day and the protective effect was maintained throughout the experiment, although to a lesser extent at higher doses. The present results show that supplementation of the human diet with low DHA dosages improves lymphocyte activability. It also increases monocyte resistance to oxLDL-induced apoptosis, which may be beneficial in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2685418  PMID: 18710607
DHA enrichment; interleukin-2; mitochondrial membrane potential; oxidized LDL
25.  Effects of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy on fetal heart rate and variability: A randomized clinical trial☆, ☆☆ 
DHA (22:6n-3) supplementation during infancy has been associated with lower heart rate (HR) and improved neurobehavioral outcomes. We hypothesized that maternal DHA supplementation would improve fetal cardiac autonomic control and newborn neurobehavior. Pregnant women were randomized to 600 mg/day of DHA or placebo oil capsules at 14.4 (+/−4) weeks gestation. Fetal HRand HRV were calculated from magnetocardiograms (MCGs) at 24, 32 and 36 weeks gestational age (GA). Newborn neurobehavior was assessed using the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS). Postpartum maternal and infant red blood cell (RBC) DHA was significantly higher in the supplemented group as were metrics of fetal HRV and newborn neurobehavior in the autonomic and motor clusters. Higher HRV is associated with more responsive and flexible autonomic nervous system (ANS). Coupled with findings of improved autonomic and motor behavior, these data suggest that maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy may impart an adaptive advantage to the fetus.
PMCID: PMC3734850  PMID: 23433688
Docosahexaenoic acid; Autonomic nervous system; Fetal; Magnetocardiology; Heart rate variability

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