Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation by breastfeeding mothers improved brain and eye development in their offspring, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (82, 1:125-132, 2005). Breastfeeding women took daily doses of high-DHA algal oil (approximately 200 mg/d DHA) or a vegetable oil control for four months following delivery. Researchers monitored the fatty acid pattern of maternal plasma phospholipid and milk lipids four months postpartum, the fatty acid pattern of plasma phospholipids and visual function in infants at four and eight months after birth, and the neurodevelopmental status of the offspring at 12 and 30 months of age.
At four months after birth, milk lipid and plasma phospholipid DHA levels of infants in the DHA group and the control group were approximately 75 percent and 35 percent higher, respectively. However, neither the neurodevelopmental indices of the infants at 12 months of age nor their visual function at four and eight months of age differed significantly between groups. The Bayley Psychomotor Development Index, but not the Mental Development Index, of the group supplemented with DHA was higher at 30 months of age.
The researchers concluded DHA supplementation by breastfeeding mothers results in higher infant plasma phospholipid DHA levels during supplementation and a higher Bayley Psychomotor Development Index at 30 months of age but results in no other advantages either at or before this age.