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Maternal supplementation of marine omega-3 shows potential in bringing down hospital costs per normal pregnancy in Australian mothers

January 11, 2016

A new paper has re-examined data from the large Australian DOMInO (DHA to Optimize Mother and Infant Outcome) study which looked at the effects of an intervention with a supplement containing the marine omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on the birth outcomes of 2,399 pregnant women. The intervention enabled cost savings for the hospitals – particularly in terms of shorter hospital stays – equivalent to an average of 92 AUD per singleton pregnancy (equivalent to 60 EUR or 66 USD), which equates on an annual basis to potential annual savings of between 15 to 51 million AUD (10 to 33 million EUR) for the Australian public hospital system.

Maternal supplementation of DHA during pregnancy is associated with longer gestations and higher birth weights. Crucially, it also reduces the incidence of very preterm births (i.e., those at less than 34 weeks), which in turn will reduce the average number of days the mother and child will need to spend in hospital.

Professor Makrides’ group (1) has re-examined hospital cost data from the large Australian DOMInO study (2). An intervention of a daily dose of fish oil containing 800 mg of DHA was given to the 2,399 pregnant women that participated in the trial. A careful calculation of the costs to the Australian public hospital service was made including in-patient hospital costs, maternity care costs and costs associated with neonatal care.

The intervention enabled cost savings for the hospitals equivalent to an average of 92 AUD per singleton pregnancy (equivalent to 60 EUR or 66 USD), which equates on an annual basis to potential annual savings of between 15 to 51 million AUD (10 to 33 million EUR) for the Australian public hospital system. The main reason for this was a reduction of 15% in preterm births in the intervention arm when compared to the control group.

The study shows that a considered DHA supplementation not only benefits the health of the mother and baby, but can also significantly reduce public health costs.

References

  1. Ahmed S, Makrides M, Sim N, McPhee A, Quinlivan J, Gibson R and Umberger W; “Analysis of hospital cost outcome of DHA-rich fish-oil supplementation in pregnancy: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial”; PLEFA 2015, 102–103: 5–11.
  2. Makrides M, Gibson R, McPhee A, Yelland L, Quinlivan J and Ryan P; “Effect of DHA supplementation during pregnancy on maternal depression and neurodevelopment of young children”; JAMA 2010, 304(15): 1675–1683.