March 2013

DHA Supplementation May Lower Risk of Premature Birth

A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation may lower the risk of premature birth.

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in salmon, tuna, and other types of fish. It is in the same family as other omega-3 fatty acids found in plant foods like flax, soy, and walnuts. In the human body, the highest levels of DHA are found in the brain, eyes and sperm.

DHA is now added to infant formula in many countries. It is believed to have health and development benefits.

In the new study, 350 pregnant women were randomly assigned to the DHA group or the control group. The control group took placebo capsules, whereas the DHA group took 600 milligrams daily of DHA capsules.

Compared to the placebo group, the women taking DHA had significantly improved measures in several parameters, including a longer period of gestation, a higher infant birth weight, and a greater infant head circumference.

Furthermore, fewer mothers in the DHA group had preterm births, defined as a gestation period of less than 34 weeks. Additionally, the DHA preterm babies had shorter hospital stays than the control preterm babies.

Further research on this topic is needed.

For more information about DHA or omega-3 fatty acids, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Carlson SE, Colombo J, Gajewski BJ et al. DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb 20. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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