Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation (DHA) and the return on investment for pregnancy outcomes

T.I. Shireman1, E.H. Kerling, B.J. Gajewski, J. Colombo, S.E. Carlson’ Correspondence information about the author S.E. Carlson Email the author S.E. Carlson
1Present address: The Department of Health Services, Policy & Practice, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

•Early preterm birth (ePTB) occurs before 34 weeks’ gestation.
•ePTB cost the US approximately USD 10.6 Billion in 2014.
•Public policy effort to increase DHA intake of pregnant women is important.

The Kansas University DHA Outcomes Study (KUDOS) found a significant reduction in early preterm births with a supplement of 600 mg DHA per day compared to placebo. The objective of this analysis was to determine if hospital costs differed between groups. We applied a post-hoc cost analysis of the delivery hospitalization and all hospitalizations in the following year to 197 mother-infant dyads who delivered at Kansas University Hospital. Hospital cost saving of DHA supplementation amounted to $1678 per infant. Even after adjusting for the estimated cost of providing 600 mg/d DHA for 26 weeks ($166.48) and a slightly higher maternal care cost ($26) in the DHA group, the net saving per dyad was $1484. Extrapolating this to the nearly 4 million US deliveries per year suggests universal supplementation with 600 mg/d during the last 2 trimesters of pregnancy could save the US health care system up to USD 6 billion.

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), DRG (Diagnosis-related group), ePTB (Early preterm birth), HCUP (Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project), KUDOS (Kansas University DHA Outcomes Study), DOMInO (DHA to Optimize Mother and Infant Outcome)
Docosahexaenoic acid, Pregnancy, Hospital cost, Preterm birth

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