The influence of prenatal dha supplementation on individual domains of behavioral functioning in school‐aged children: Follow‐up of a randomized controlled trial

Jacqueline F. Gould, Peter J. Anderson, Lisa N. Yelland, Robert A. Gibson, Maria Makrides

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) accumulates in the fetal brain during pregnancy and is thought to have a role in supporting neurodevelopment. We conducted a multicenter, double‐blind, randomized controlled trial in women with a singleton pregnancy who were <21 weeks’ gestation at trial entry. Women were provided with 800 mg DHA/day or a placebo supplement from trial entry until birth. When children reached seven years of age, we invited parents to complete the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), and the Conners 3rd Edition Attention‐Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Index to assess child behavior and behavioral manifestations of executive dysfunction. There were 543 parent–child pairs (85% of those eligible) that participated in the follow‐up. Scores were worse in the DHA group than the placebo group for the BRIEF Global Executive, Behavioral Regulation and Metacognition Indexes, and the Shift, Inhibit, Monitor, Working Memory, and Organization of Materials scales, as well as for the Conners 3 ADHD index, and the SDQ Total Difficulties score, Hyperactivity/Inatten-tion score, and Peer Relationship Problems score. In this healthy, largely term‐born sample of chil-dren, prenatal DHA supplementation conferred no advantage to childhood behavior, and instead appeared to have an adverse effect on behavioral functioning, as assessed by standardized parental report scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2996
Number of pages20
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Behavior
  • Behavioral problems
  • DHA
  • Omega‐3 fatty acids
  • Prenatal
  • RCT
  • Supplementation

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