The ORIP Trial (Omega-3 fats to Reduce the Incidence of Prematurity) is a research study that is investigating whether taking a fish oil rich in the omega 3 fat, called Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), during pregnancy will help prevent very premature delivery.
It is the largest clinical trial of omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy in the world. The study has finished recruiting and analysis of results is currently taking place.
The DOMInO Trial (DHA to Optimise Mother Infant Outcome) was designed to test whether fish oil capsules rich in the omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) taken during the last half of pregnancy reduced the symptoms of postnatal depression at six weeks and six months, or improved development of the child at 18 months of age.
We originally thought that DHA in pregnancy might help to prevent postnatal depression. However, the results indicated that there was no reduction in the risk of depression in the mothers taking the DHA capsules. Importantly, we did find that there were fewer infants who were born preterm (before 34 weeks) to mothers in the DHA group. Because of this finding, we have been funded by the Australian Government to undertake a new trial (Omega-3 fats to Reduce the Incidence of Prematurity, ORIP) in a larger population (5000 women) to confirm our results.
Children born to women who took part in the DOMInO Trial in South Australia have also taken part in research to help us understand how the level of DHA supplied to the baby during pregnancy may affect several important aspects of later growth and development, including
- DOMInO Trial Allergy Follow-up
- DOMInO Trial Growth Follow-up
- DOMInO Trial Developmental Follow-up
The DOMInO study and follow-up studies are going a long way in helping us to understand how the level of DHA supplied to the baby during pregnancy affects several important aspects of their later growth and development. The results so far suggest that there are probably few effects of taking DHA during pregnancy on growth and cognitive development of children, but that DHA may have benefits for conditions that have an inflammatory component, including allergic disease and giving birth prematurely.
Our CAKE (Can Egg Allergic Kids Eat Baked Egg?) study was designed to find out whether, for children with existing egg allergy, regular inclusion of baked egg in their diet helped them to outgrow their egg allergy more quickly. This CAKE ‘treatment’ study showed, for allergic children, regular eating baked egg does not change the rate at which they develop tolerance.
The aim the STEP Trial (Starting Time for Egg Protein) is to determine whether the incidence of egg allergy is reduced by early regular exposure to egg compared with the common practice of delaying egg introduction in infancy. Recruitment and follow up of is now complete. Results are pending.
The DINO study (DHA for the Improvement of Neurodevelopmental Outcome in preterm infants) was designed to determine if giving extra DHA to premature babies improves mental development at 18 months of age. We also wanted to see if any effects were sustained to the early school years.
We found some benefit for the infants at 18 months. Our findings from the seven year follow-up showed that, while the vast majority of the children were performing well, differences between those who got extra DHA and those who didn’t had waned. In the long term, the effect of the family and environment may have a greater influence on cognitive outcomes.
In the PINK study ((Pregnancy Iodine and Neurodevelopment in Kids), we examined the relationship between the mother’s iodine nutrition during pregnancy and their child’s performance on a standard developmental test at 18 months of age. Recruitment for the PINK Study is complete, with more than 780 women and their children being involved.
Vitamin D, pregnancy and lactation
A lack of vitamin D in early childhood leads to a serious bone disease called rickets and possibly other negative health outcomes. While exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is recommended, breast milk does not contain adequate Vitamin D.
We found that giving mothers at least 50 µg/d vitamin D protects against vitamin D deficiency to eight weeks after birth (as long as we measured) and may be an alternative to infant supplementation.