Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake estimated from a 7-question survey identifies pregnancies most likely to benefit from high-dose DHA supplementation

D. N. Christifano, S. A. Crawford, G. Lee, A. R. Brown, J. T. Camargo, E. H. Kerling, B. J. Gajewski, C. J. Valentine, K. M. Gustafson, E. A. DeFranco, S. E. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Two randomized trials found women with low blood docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; an omega 3 fatty acid) had fewer early preterm births (<34 weeks gestation) if they were assigned to high dose DHA supplementation, however, there is currently no capacity for clinicians who care for pregnancies to obtain a blood assessment of DHA. Determining a way to identify women with low DHA intake whose risk could be lowered by high dose DHA supplementation is desired. Objective: To determine if assessing DHA intake can identify pregnancies that benefit from high dose DHA supplementation. Study design: This secondary analysis used birth data from 1310 pregnant women who completed a 7-question food frequency questionnaire (DHA-FFQ) at 16.8 ± 2.5 weeks gestation that is validated to assess DHA status. They were then randomly assigned to a standard (200 mg/day) or high dose (800 or 1000 mg/day) DHA supplement for the remainder of pregnancy. Bayesian logistic regressions were fitted for early preterm birth and preterm birth as a function of DHA intake and assigned DHA dose. Results: Participants who consumed less than 150 mg/day DHA prior to 20 weeks’ gestation (n = 810/1310, 58.1%) had a lower Bayesian posterior probability (pp) of early preterm birth if they were assigned to high dose DHA supplementation (1.4% vs 3.9%, pp = 0.99). The effect on preterm birth (<37 weeks) was also significant (11.3% vs 14.8%, pp = 0.97). Conclusion: The DHA-FFQ can identify pregnancies that will benefit most from high dose DHA supplementation and reduce the risk of preterm birth. The DHA-FFQ is low burden to providers and patients and could be easily implemented in obstetrical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Nutrition ESPEN
StatePublished - Feb 2023

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  • Diet
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal supplements
  • Preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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