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N-3 Fatty Acid Requirements for Human Development

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00620672
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : February 21, 2008
Last Update Posted : June 1, 2016
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of British Columbia

Brief Summary:
Polyunsaturated fatty acids known as n-3 fatty acids are essential dietary nutrients for humans, and are known to be important to reducing the risk of certain diseases, particularly those related to neural system, cardiovascular system and immune system. Among the different n-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is present in particularly high amounts in the brain and retina, and is accumulated in large amounts in these organs during the last trimester of fetal development and first few months after birth. The n-3 fatty acids are present in the diet as linolenic acid which is found in vegetable and seed oils, and as DHA which is only found in animal tissue fats, with fatty fish being the richest dietary source. Humans are able to convert linolenic acid to DHA, but the conversion is believed to be slow in human and possibly inadequate to support the needs for DHA for the developing brain. Information from our work and those of others has suggested that DHA is important during pregnancy, however specific evidence is lacking to show that the DHA status of pregnant women in low, or that improvement in the DHA status of Canadian women during pregnancy will have benefit to early infant an child development. There is no evidence that infants of vegans and vegetarians, or women who do not eat DHA are at risk for developmental delays. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether a dietary supplement of DHA during pregnancy has any effect on infant birth weight, or indices of infant growth, visual, mental and motor skill development.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Pregnancy Dietary Supplement: omega 3 fatty acids Dietary Supplement: vegetable oil Phase 1

Detailed Description:
This is a randomized, blinded prospective study with 2 groups: placebo and group supplemented with DHA. Women are randomized at 16 weeks gestation without knowledge of their dietary fatty acid intake. Only healthy women expecting to deliver a single infant with no known or anticipated maternal or fetal complications are enrolled. Maternal venous blood is collected at 16 and 36 weeks of gestation and used to assess the maternal DHA status and effect of DHA supplementation. Dietary information is collected at 16 and 36 weeks of gestation to determine usual fatty acid intakes. Following delivery, fetal cord blood is collected to assess transfer of DHA from mother to fetus. Breast milk samples are collected from all breast feeding mothers at 1 and 2 months postpartum. The mother -infant pairs are followed for 18 months. Measures include visual acuity, language, motor and mental development, and growth and dietary intakes.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 270 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double (Participant, Care Provider)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: To Compare Measures of Central Nervous System Maturity of Visual Acuity, Language, Mental and Motor Skill Development in Term Infants Following Maternal Supplementation Wit the n-3 Fatty Acid Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) During Gestation.
Study Start Date : May 2004
Actual Primary Completion Date : December 2011
Actual Study Completion Date : May 2016

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

Arm Intervention/treatment
The dietary supplement is 400 mg/day of the omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid . The docosahexaenoic acid is provided in triglycerides from Martek Biosciences, Maryland. The supplement is a blend of soybean and canola oil, blended to resemble the usual fat composition of the diet. Both the supplement and placebo provide a total of about 10 calories per day to the diet.
Dietary Supplement: omega 3 fatty acids
The supplements are taken orally with a meal, each day. The amount of the omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid is 400 mg/day; taken in two 500 mg capsules each providing 200 mg docosahexaenoic acid. The placebo is two 500 mg capsules soybean/canola oil. Both the supplement and placebo are a total of 1 gm/day (2x500 mg) and about 10 calories per day.

Dietary supplement is vegetable oil, the placebo.
Dietary Supplement: vegetable oil
The supplement is a dietary supplement of vegetable oil as a placebo

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Primary outcome is measuring of infant CNS maturity to 18 months of age [ Time Frame: 18 months ]
    Primary outcome is measuring of infant CNS maturity to 18 months of age

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Length of gestation and infant birth weight, infant growth (weight, length and head circumference) at 1,2 6,9,12,14,and 18 months Language development at 14 and 16 months [ Time Frame: 72 months ]
    • Length of gestation and infant birth weight, infant growth (weight, length and head circumference) at 1,2 6,9,12,14,and 18 months
    • Diet, blood an dbreast milk fatty acids

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   20 Years to 40 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • 12-16 weeks gestation
  • Low risk pregnancy
  • Expected to deliver single full term
  • No maternal metabolic or infectious disease
  • No known fetal complications.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00620672

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Canada, British Columbia
Children's & Women's Health Centre of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6H 3V4
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of British Columbia
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
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Principal Investigator: Sheila M. Innis, Ph.D University of British Columbia
Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
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Responsible Party: University of British Columbia Identifier: NCT00620672    
Other Study ID Numbers: H03-70242
First Posted: February 21, 2008    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: June 1, 2016
Last Verified: May 2016
Keywords provided by University of British Columbia:
n-3 supplementation during pregnancy
DHA and pregnancy, infant development
n-3 status and gestation
DHA and visual acuity and cognition during infancy