February 5, 2019, Sioux Falls, SD: OmegaQuant Analytics, producer of the original omega-3 blood test, The Omega-3 Index, has launched its newest test — the Prenatal DHA Test. Developed to help expecting moms monitor their omega-3 DHA level, the company believes this tool will help women figure out how much of this important nutrient they need in order to support a full-term pregnancy.
Around 10% of babies are born too early each year, and the medical community is still uncertain as to all the reasons why. New research suggests a nutrient deficiency might be at least partly to blame.
DHA has been the subject of several recent studies specifically connecting it with a risk of early preterm birth (before 34 weeks), which is one of the top concerns for doctors and pregnant women. One study showed that taking DHA could reduce this risk by 42%, while another study showed that women with low blood levels of DHA are 10x more likely to deliver a baby prematurely than women with healthy DHA levels.
Researchers believe assessing a mother’s DHA status could be instrumental in identifying women at increased risk for preterm birth. In other words, if a woman knows her DHA level is low, then she can make the necessary dietary modifications to bring those levels into an optimal range.
The DHA level a pregnant woman should strive for is at least 5% (i.e., 5% of her red blood cell fatty acids are DHA). If a woman falls below 5%, she can easily increase her DHA level by eating more fatty fish like salmon or taking an omega-3 supplement that contains at least 200 mg of DHA. DHA levels in pregnant women of 4.3% are described in the research as “very low,” with 3.5% defined as “exceedingly deficient.”
“In a study we published in December, we estimated that 70% of women of childbearing age in the US are below the 5% DHA cutoff. There are no known risks to having a DHA level that is too high in pregnancy, except for the potential of carrying a baby past 40 weeks. Still, the longer a baby can stay in the womb, the lower the chances are for complications,” said Kristina Harris Jackson, PhD, RD, a Research Associate at OmegaQuant Analytics. “It’s hard to think of a more important biomarker than prenatal DHA levels that can be safely and easily modified and has such potentially consequential outcomes.”
The Prenatal DHA Test is the first and only test available to both doctors and consumers. To learn more about the Prenatal DHA Test, click here.