TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Although some studies have shown a benefit to mothers and their infants from taking supplemental fish oil in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a new Australian study finds no such benefit.
In this large randomized, controlled study of more than 2,000 pregnant women, the researchers found no benefit from DHA in reducing levels of postpartum depression or improving thinking skills (cognitive) and language development in babies.
"Our data suggest that there is no need for apparently healthy pregnant women to take DHA supplements," said lead researcher Maria Makrides, from Women's and Children's Health Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia.
"Further work is needed to determine the potential benefits of DHA supplementation for women with a history or depression and for women at risk of having a premature baby," she added.
The report is published in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For the study, Makrides and colleagues randomly assigned 2,399 women less than 21 weeks' pregnant to receive either daily fish oil supplements containing 800 mg of DHA or vegetable oil capsules containing no DHA. The women took these until the birth of their babies.
The researchers used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to assess the mothers' levels of depression and the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development to assess cognitive and language development in their children.
During the first six months after delivery, there was no clinically significant difference between the groups in the levels of postpartum depression -- 9.67 percent among women receiving DHA supplements and 11.19 percent among women receiving no DHA, Makrides and colleagues found. In addition, there was no significant difference between the groups in the number of new cases of depression, they note
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