The effects of maternal supplementation of polyunsaturated Fatty acids on visual, neurobehavioural, and developmental outcomes of the child: a systematic review of the randomized trials

Obstet Gynecol Int. 2012;2012:591531. doi: 10.1155/2012/591531. Epub 2012 Jan 18.


Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) use in pregnancy has been promoted as beneficial for visual and neurobehavioural development in the fetus. However, no systematic review of the randomized trials has been conducted. The objective of this review was to evaluate potential advantages of this regiment by reviewing all randomized trials in pregnancy. Methods. Systematic review of randomized controlled studies comparing cognitive and visual achievements among infants whose mothers were treated and untreated with PUFA during gestation. Results. Nine studies met the inclusion criteria, three focusing on visual and six on neurobehavioural development. Due to differing outcome measurements in the infants, the studies could not be combined into a formal meta-analysis. Synthesizing the existing data, for both visual and neurobehavioural development, most studies could not show sustained benefits to infant cognition or visual development. Conclusion. At the present time a recommendation to change practice and supplement all expecting mothers with PUFA to improve offspring vision or neurobehavioural function is not supported by existing evidence.