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Dietary Supplement DHA Prevents Preterm Births

Analyses of two medical trials, one within the U.S. and the other within Australia, advocate that hundreds of thousands of early preterm births, which are those at or earlier than 34 weeks’ gestation, would be avoided if pregnant women took acid (DHA) dietary supplements every day.

The studies wherein pregnant women took DHA dietary supplements everyday independently found statistically significant reductions in early preterm delivery.

DHA and Preterm Birth

The researchers examined low-, moderate- and high-risk births from moms who took DHA supplements in the course of being pregnant in comparison with placebo controls. They estimated that more than 106,000 high-risk early preterm births could be avoided in the U.S. and about 1,100 would be prevented in Australia every year if pregnant women only took omega fatty acid supplements every day.

Babies who were born very preterm in most cases require lifesaving cures and longer hospitalizations at the beginning of life and are at increased risk for extra hospitalizations within the first year of life especially in the developed world. Furthermore, these toddlers are at risk for serious disability or death the earlier they’re born. This is according to Susan Carlson, A.J. Rice Professor of Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center, who co-directed the U.S. study with John Colombo, KU professor of psychology and director of the Life Span Institute.

According to her, At present there is no effective method to prevent spontaneous early preterm birth. Our recent studies suggest that DHA could be a promising agent for reducing this critical public health problem.

Scientific Studies

The KUDOS (Kansas DHA Outcome Study), headed by Carlson and Colombo, and the DOMinO (DHA to Optimize Mother Infant Outcome) study directed by Maria Makrides, professor of human nutrition and the leader for Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute, as well as Robert Gibson, professor of functional food science at the University of Adelaide, found out that there is a small increase in gestation size. However, this increase was noted to be related to a decrease in deliveries which are at danger for early preterm birth.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is present naturally in cell membranes and are abundant in brain cells, but levels can also be improved by diet or supplements. A baby obtains DHA from his or her mom in utero and postnatally from human milk, however the amount obtained relies on the mother’s DHA levels, Carlson said. According to her, U.S. women typically consume less DHA than women in most of the developed world. The intake of DHA is both the U.S. and Australia is well below that reported by Japanese women.

By utilising the results of DOMinO and KUDOS, the researchers in both reviews observed that early preterm births could be decreased to just 1.3 percentage in Australia or 1.5 percentage of births in the U.S. in demographically identical populations. Carlson remarked, These percentages are remarkably similar and may reflect the lowest rate of spontaneous early preterm birth that can be achieved in any population.

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