Hidaka BH, Thodosoff JM, Kerling EH, Hull HR, Colombo J, Carlson SE (2018) Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jan 1;107(1): 35-42. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqx007.
Observational studies find associations between maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and greater fat-free mass and lower percentage of body fat, but randomized trials of prenatal DHA supplementation have not found significant intent-to-treat effects on childhood body composition.
This study sought to explore associations between intrauterine DHA exposure and body composition and size at 5 y in the offspring of women who participated in a randomized trial of prenatal DHA supplementation (corn and soybean oil placebo or 600 mg/d).
At 5 y, body composition was measured by air displacement plethysmography in 154 offspring of women who had participated in the Kansas University DHA Outcomes Study and who had red blood cell (RBC) phospholipid (PL) fatty acids assessed at enrollment and delivery. We used linear regression models to analyze the relation among 3 indicators of intrauterine DHA exposure-1) intent-to-treat (placebo or DHA), 2) maternal RBC PL DHA status at delivery, and 3) change in maternal DHA (delivery minus enrollment)-and 6 outcomes of interest: 5-y fat mass, fat-free mass, percentage of body fat, height, weight, and body mass index z score.
Change in maternal RBC PL DHA correlated with higher fat-free mass (r = 0.21, P = 0.0088); the association was unchanged after adjustment for maternal, perinatal, and childhood dietary factors. Intent-to-treat and DHA status at delivery showed positive trends with fat-free mass that were not statistically significant. There was no evidence relating intrauterine DHA exposure to any other body composition measure.
Change in maternal DHA status during pregnancy was related to higher offspring 5-y fat-free mass. The other 2 indicators of intrauterine exposure to DHA suggested a trend for higher offspring 5-y fat-free mass. Our findings agree with an earlier observational study from the United Kingdom.