There’s Yet Another Reason to Make Sure Moms Take Prenatal Vitamins with DHA before and throughout Pregnancy

By: Michael Roizen, MD

October 25, 2016

The data surrounding the importance of prenatal vitamin supplementation is significant, deep and important. If the data on decreased nervous system defects (like spina bifida) in infants weren’t enough [1] to motivate potential moms to make sure they take prenatal vitamins with DHA before and during pregnancy, there is new evidence that shows children have better attention and concentration power in the years after infancy [2].

Before I go on, know that I am prejudiced; as I chaired the scientific advisory board of a company that produces DHA omega-3 whose parent is a leading vitamin supplier.

Prenatal Vitamins with DHA

While there has been considerable data (in humans as well as animals) that infants born of women taking prenatal vitamins with DHA have better visual acuity and better attention focusing in infancy.  This new study takes those benefits farther.

This new study from collaborating researchers at Emory in Atlanta, Georgia State, the National Institute of Perinatology in Mexico, and the Global Alliance for Nutrition in Geneva, Switzerland, found that the benefit of better attention in infants born of mom’s who took prenatal multivitamins with DHA omega-3 throughout the last half of pregnancy lasted past infancy into at least early childhood. This was a randomized double-blind controlled trial – the gold standard of studies. It was published in a journal known for having critical and discerning editors that review submissions and only publish the best in science, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And, it involved enough moms (1094) and enough children followed for more than five years since birth (797) to make it unlikely the results were a statistical fluke.  This study is the kind we docs pay attention to.

So it gives me more confidence that the recommendations Dr. Oz and I give to take a prenatal multivitamin with DHA from three months prior to pregnancy and through breastfeeding, in our books, YOU: Having a Baby, and YOU: Raising Your Child, are appropriate and validated yet again.  Since 50 percent of pregnancies in North America are unplanned, I believe every woman of childbearing age should take a daily multivitamin with DHA omega-3.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions to, and I may know enough to answer some of them! I’ll try to get answers for you if I do not know.

Follow Dr. Roizen to receive updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week @YoungDrMike, or listen on This podcast is also available on and


1.      Wallingford J, Niswander L, Shaw G, Finnell R. The challenge of understanding and preventing neural tube defects. Science 2013;339:1222002.[]

2.      Ramakrishnan U, Gonzalez-Casanova I, Schnaas L, DiGirolamo A, Quezada A, Pallo BC, Hao W, Neufeld LM, Rivera JA, Stein AD, Martorell R. Prenatal supplementation with DHAimproves attention at 5 y of age: a randomized controlled trial. Amer J. Clin Nutr 2016; doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.101071

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