Effect of Maternal Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Supplementation on Offspring Neurodevelopment at 12 Months in India: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Nutrients. 2020 Oct 3;12(10):3041. doi: 10.3390/nu12103041.


Intake of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA 22:6n-3) is very low among Indian pregnant women. Maternal supplementation during pregnancy and lactation may benefit offspring neurodevelopment. We conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test the effectiveness of supplementing pregnant Indian women (singleton gestation) from ≤20 weeks through 6 months postpartum with 400 mg/d algal DHA compared to placebo on neurodevelopment of their offspring at 12 months. Of 3379 women screened, 1131 were found eligible; 957 were randomized. The primary outcome was infant neurodevelopment at 12 months, assessed using the Development Assessment Scale for Indian Infants (DASII). Both groups were well balanced on sociodemographic variables at baseline. More than 72% of women took >90% of their assigned treatment. Twenty-five serious adverse events (SAEs), none related to the intervention, (DHA group = 16; placebo = 9) were noted. Of 902 live births, 878 were followed up to 12 months; the DASII was administered to 863 infants. At 12 months, the mean development quotient (DQ) scores in the DHA and placebo groups were not statistically significant (96.6 ± 12.2 vs. 97.1 ± 13.0, p = 0.60). Supplementing mothers through pregnancy and lactation with 400 mg/d DHA did not impact offspring neurodevelopment at 12 months of age in this setting.

Keywords: India; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); lactation; maternal supplementation; neurodevelopment; pregnancy; randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Lactation
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids