Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation (DHA) and the return on investment for pregnancy outcomes

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2016 Aug:111:8-10. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2016.05.008. Epub 2016 May 13.


The Kansas University DHA Outcomes Study (KUDOS) found a significant reduction in early preterm births with a supplement of 600mg DHA per day compared to placebo. The objective of this analysis was to determine if hospital costs differed between groups. We applied a post-hoc cost analysis of the delivery hospitalization and all hospitalizations in the following year to 197 mother-infant dyads who delivered at Kansas University Hospital. Hospital cost saving of DHA supplementation amounted to $1678 per infant. Even after adjusting for the estimated cost of providing 600mg/d DHA for 26 weeks ($166.48) and a slightly higher maternal care cost ($26) in the DHA group, the net saving per dyad was $1484. Extrapolating this to the nearly 4 million US deliveries per year suggests universal supplementation with 600mg/d during the last 2 trimesters of pregnancy could save the US health care system up to USD 6 billion.

Trial registration: NCT00266825.

Keywords: Docosahexaenoic acid; Hospital cost; Pregnancy; Preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings
  • Dietary Supplements / economics
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / economics
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Premature Birth / economics
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids

Associated data