Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not the supplementation of N-3 fatty acids containing DHA throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding improve child cognition.

STUDY DESIGN: Review of three double blind randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) published in 2003 and 2011.

DATA SOURCES: Three peer-reviewed RCTs were found using PubMed and Medline. These studies compared DHA supplementation against various placebos.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: enhanced child cognition was assessed via various exams, including the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) and Fagan tests. Significant outcomes were evaluated through the use of SD, Mean Scores, and p-values.

RESULTS: Helland et al (2003) found significant cognitive differences between 4 year old children born to DHA and non-DHA supplemented mothers, via MPC scores on the KABC test (106.4[7.4] v. 102.3[11.3]; P=0.049). Helland (2001) and Campoy (2011), however, did not note any significant differences between children on either the Fagan ((55.2[4.5] vs. 55.4[3.7]% at 6 months and 55.5[3.8] vs. 56.2[3.5]% at 9 months) or KABC tests (110[11] vs. 110[14.5]% at 6.5 years old) respectively.

CONCLUSION: Conflicting results from these three RCTs demonstrate that the effects of supplementing pregnant and breast-feeding mothers with N-3 fatty acids containing DHA on child cognition is inconclusive.