Pregnant mothers who ate DHA-enriched eggs during the last three months of pregnancy had an increased length of gestation, report researchers.
The team found that gestation increased by six days in the group taking eggs with added docosahexaenoic acid (133mg DHA per egg) compared to the ordinary egg (33mg DHA per egg) group. They report their findings in this month's Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The study, which included 291 subjects, also showed a trend for higher birth weight, length and head circumference with intake of the high-DHA eggs, although the trend did not result in statistical significance.
The study's principal investigator Dr Susan E. Carlson, a Professor in the department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said: "These data suggest that increasing DHA intake among pregnant women may have great potential in optimizing pregnancy outcomes and the developmental outcomes of their infants as well."Further research to explore the role of DHA in gestation will be carried out in a larger study being conducted at Denver Health Hospital, through a grant awarded to Colorado State University.
Carlson has also studied development in a subset of infants born to women in the pregnancy study. Infants born to women whose blood DHA level was above the median had an accelerated developmental course for attention in infancy compared to infants of mothers whose blood DHA level was below the median. The data will be presented at the Society for Research in Child Development in April.
"This evidence further validates DHA as a critical nutrient impacting infant growth and development," commented Henry Linsert, chairman and CEO of Martek Biosciences, which supplied the DHA for the study. "The potential benefits of increasing gestation length are significant."
Martek develops nutritional oils for infant formula, supplements and food ingredients derived from microalgae.