DHA Supplementation in Preterm Infants Shows Improved IQ

New England Journal of Medicine research from Gould, Makrides et al. shows that babies born preterm who received omega-3 DHA supplementation had higher IQ of 3.45 points on average at age 5 than the control group.


  • Omega-3 Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is a main building block of the brain. DHA increases at the greatest level during the final trimester of pregnancy. Infants born before 29 weeks’ gestation do not receive the normal supply of DHA.
  • Severely premature infants are neurologically impaired in the long term.

Study Findings

  • The omega-3 DHA supplementation provided in infancy showed permanent increases in IQ long term with no other intervention over 5 years of life.
  • Providing Omega-3 DHA in the feeds of severely premature infants, as they would receive from the placenta if not born premature, recovers 43% (3.5/8.1 IQ points) of the cognitive deficit as measured by a standard IQ test.
  • The Omega-3 DHA supplementation group at age 5 years of age had an average IQ of 95.4 out of 100. The control group at 5 years of age had an average IQ of 91.9 out of 100.
  • This is a significant study and all future standards of care for preterm infants should receive at least 60mg/kg/day.

mean IQ score at 5 years

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