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Open AccessReview

The Influence of DHA on Language Development: A Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of DHA Supplementation in Pregnancy, the Neonatal Period, and Infancy

1
Discipline of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, Australia
2
Women and Kids, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide 5006, Australia
3
Trinity College Gawler Inc., Alexander Avenue, Evanston South 5116, Australia
4
School of Psychology & Discipline of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(10), 3106; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12103106
Received: 9 September 2020 / Revised: 2 October 2020 / Accepted: 7 October 2020 / Published: 12 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Nutrition and Public Health)
This review summarizes randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in the first 1000 days on child language. Six databases were searched and RCTs were included if they involved supplementation with DHA during pregnancy, to preterm infants, or during the postpartum period, included a placebo group with less or no DHA, and reported a language outcome. We included 29 RCTs involving n = 10,405 participants from 49 publications. There was a total of 84 language measures at ages ranging from 3 months to 12 years. Of the 84 assessments, there were 4 instances where the DHA group had improved scores, and 2 instances where the DHA group had worse scores (with the majority of these significant effects found within one RCT). The remaining comparisons were null. A few RCTs that included subgroup analyses reported (inconsistent) effects. There was limited evidence that DHA supplementation had any effect on language development, although there were some rare instances of both possible positive and adverse effects, particularly within population subgroups. It is important that any subgroup effects are verified in future trials that are adequately powered to confirm such effects. View Full-Text
Keywords: DHA; omega-3 fatty acids; supplementation; language; verbal abilities; speech; prenatal; postnatal; neonatal; infant DHA; omega-3 fatty acids; supplementation; language; verbal abilities; speech; prenatal; postnatal; neonatal; infant
MDPI and ACS Style

Gawlik, N.R.; Anderson, A.J.; Makrides, M.; Kettler, L.; Gould, J.F. The Influence of DHA on Language Development: A Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of DHA Supplementation in Pregnancy, the Neonatal Period, and Infancy. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3106.

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