Dietary assessment of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake in pregnant women of Southwest Montana

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) is imperative for prenatal development and is found primarily in the flesh of marine life. Previous research has indicated that pregnant women do not meet current DHA recommendations of 200 mg per day. Much of the research has been conducted in coastal communities with greater access to marine sources and may not reflect non-coastal communities. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe maternal DHA intake in pregnant women from Southwest Montana and to determine changes in dietary DHA intake over time. METHODS: Thirty-nine participants were asked to complete a non-consecutive 3-day diet record and a DHA focused food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at weeks 18, 28 and 35 (± 1 week). Maternal fasted plasma and red blood cell samples were obtained via venipuncture during the same data collection periods. Fetal cord blood samples were collected at delivery. Due to time restrictions, all blood lipid parameters were undetermined. After delivery, participants completed a post-partum survey. RESULTS: Participants' overall mean (MEAN ± SD (min. - max.)) DHA intake was 248 ± 321 mg/d (8 - 1,836 mg/d). According to those who reported using DHA supplements in their FFQ interviews at weeks 18 (n = 12), 28 (n = 13) and 35 (n = 11), the mean DHA intake was 272 ± 380 mg/d (147 - 1,490 mg/d). The mean DHA intake among non-supplement users at weeks 18 (n = 22), 28 (n = 20) and 35 (n = 21) was 147 ± 139 mg/d (8 - 555 mg/d). Dietary DHA intake from weeks 18, 28 and 35 did not differ significantly (F (2, 62) = 0.220, p = 0.803). CONCLUSION: Dietary DHA intake did not differ over time. The mean dietary DHA intake for non-supplement users was below the current prenatal recommendation. Therefore, pregnant women in Southwest Montana are not meeting current DHA recommendations through dietary means alone and should consider DHA supplementation as a method to meet fetal and maternal DHA needs during pregnancy.




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