Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy and Lactation – Pregnancy Example

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"Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy and Lactation"  is an engrossing example of a paper on pregnancy. Hypothesis/ Question Does docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during lactation and pregnancy affect infants’ immune system and response? Research Design Specific Parameters Chosen The study employed an experimental approach whereby there was control as well as an experimental group. Such design is imperative as it imposes a treatment on particular subjects and observes their response. Moreover, the specific parameters were chosen to help answer the identified question. This means that it helped summarize evidence appropriate to the question of whether causal relations do exist between DHA and the infant’ s immune system.

Therefore, experiments that used behavioral and cognitive tests as outcome measures were used. In addition, experimental designs reviewed include observational breastfeeding as well as randomized controlled trials among 60 pregnant women aged between 20 to 45 years, in which 30 of them were assigned to receive DHA 400 mg. In addition, questionnaires were used to help get accurate results on the effect that DHA supplementation has on infants’ immune systems. The randomized study was undertaken to access whether the DHA supplements had any effect on the infant’ s immune response.

The main purpose behind randomizing a group of pregnant women is to differentiate them from those who did not take the DHA supplements. According to Wood and Kerr (100-102), the experimental research design is paramount as it is focused on the relationship between independent and dependent variables. This means that it offers strong evidence for causal oriented interpretations. Whether Methods used addresses the experiment performed The quantitative research methodology used clearly addresses the experiment that was performed. This is because it helped in quantifying data as well as generalizing results from a sample of pregnant women who were taking DHA supplements against those who did not.

Moreover, the method utilized structured techniques such as the use of questionnaires, whereby, the findings were descriptive and conclusive in nature. Whether better Methods could have been used The study could have utilized mixed methodology and correlational research design. This is because, with mixed methodology, readers would have understood the underlying reasons behind taking DHA supplements and their impact. In addition, the method would have provided insights into the underlying question and generated ideas for later related research.

On the same note, the use of mixed methodology would have given an opportunity to uncover prevalent trends in opinion and thoughts of various scholars, using secondary materials such as journals and books rather than just focusing on primary sources as was the case in the study. In addition to that, the use of secondary sources would have made it possible to develop an initial comprehension as well as a sound base for any decisions that will be made in the future about the subject.

The mixed methodology would have also given a chance to other semi-structured techniques such as group discussions and interviews rather than simply relying on structured techniques. Similarly, the correlational research design could have been a better statistical technique to show how and whether DHA and an infant’ s immune system are connected. Limitations of the Methods Although the use of questionnaires in the study is practical and helped in collecting massive information from a large number of pregnant women in a limited time, it is inadequate. This is because it is possible that the answers given were affected by feelings, emotions, and behavior; hence, might not be accurate.

On the same note, the results of the questionnaires can be easily and quickly quantified by researchers and analyzed more objectively and scientifically. However, the use of questionnaires in the study posed various limitations because it lacked validity and there was no way to tell whether the respondents were being truthful. Similarly, with questionnaires, there was no way to tell how much thought the pregnant women had put in and it is possible they were not thinking within the context of the scenario.

In addition, when using questionnaires, it is possible for the respondents to read questions differently; hence, reply based on their interpretation. Additionally, it is important to understand that there is a certain level of researcher imposition; thus, researchers make their assumptions and decisions about what is significant. Consequently, it is highly likely to miss something that is of importance in regard to the DHA and the immune system; hence, affecting the results. In addition, experimental designs have various limitations.

This is because it is not possible to manipulate the independent variable for ethical and practical reasons. For instance, in the case of studying the effects of DHA on infants’ immune response, one cannot do a comprehensive experiment because that will mean damaging the immune system of the infants to get an accurate answer. Therefore, in such cases, correlational research can be used as the perfect alternative. Another major limitation of experimental research is that controlling some unrelated variables means creating artificial situations. For example, in determining the effect of DHA on an infant’ s immune response, pregnant mothers were typically brought on board and asked questions on the type of oil they used and the type of fish they consumed (Granot et al.

3). Although it is legitimate to ask questions in regard to food, it is highly likely to have distorted answers due to feelings, emotions, and how well they remembered. Results Important Results In the randomized trial, 60 pregnant women were studied, in which half of them were assigned to receive 400 mg of DHA per day. This was to take place from the 12th week of the gestation period to the 4th month after giving birth.

The remaining half were not treated though all the mothers consumed a diet that had DHA content. During the fourth month, the blood of the infants was tested and analyzed for immune cells that were referred to as CD4+ lymphocytes. The results obtained indicated no difference between the two groups although their naï ve cells were higher in infants whose mothers were taking DHA supplements. Moreover, inflammatory stress was lower in the group that was taking supplements.

Therefore, results revealed that DHA supplementation is likely to enhance immunological response among infants. Whether Results were Analyzed Correctly Although the results were analyzed correctly according to the answers given in the questionnaire and the blood samples collected, they were not entirely concrete because the research design and method used posed few limitations. However, despite the few flaws in the study, what is certain is that DHA has an imperative role to play; hence, the results were to some extent accurate. For instance, Calder Prescott and Caplan (n. d), asserts that the DHA plays an imperative role in the infant’ s visual acuity, cognitive development, as well as growth.

In that case, just like Granot et al (2011), other scholars agree that the DHA supplementation is capable of improving the immune response in infants. Whether Results Reflect the Study Design An experimental research design was used, whose results were based on objective and systematic observation of the pregnant mothers who consumed DHA. In addition, the design and the use of questionnaires were aimed at determining the effect that DHA has on the immune response of the infants.

Therefore, it is sound to argue that the results of the study reflected clearly on the research design that was used. Significance of the study Whether the study was important The study was important since it gave an overview of what DHA is. From the study, readers got to learn that DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid, which is important in improving the infants' immune system. In addition, DHA supplements help in the rapid growth of the infant’ s brain and enhance their immune system; hence, they are less ill.

Moreover, the study is imperative as it highlights some of the major diets that have DHA supplements, which mothers can consume such as fish and nuts. Whether the Study will Advance Knowledge in the Field Moreover, the study will help in advancing knowledge in the field. This is because more researchers will be focused on studying other DHA components and diets that mothers can take to ensure the well-being of their infants. In addition, the study paves the way for more related research on the importance of DHA not only to infants but also to adults.

Therefore, the study is paramount in carrying out a future study on the relationship between the DHA and the immune system and the reasons why DHA supplements are essential. Moreover, more research will be conducted on the side effects of taking such supplements. Whether the Study Provides Clinical Significance The study also provides clinical significance to human beings. This is because various scholars argue that taking DHA supplements helps in preventing Alzheimer's, asthma, dementia, diabetes, depression, psoriasis, arthritis, and coronary heart diseases. Moreover, DHA helps in killing cancer cells (Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology; Mousa 1-4).

Therefore, it is without a doubt that the study has a clinical significance to human beings; hence, more related research should be conducted.


Calder, Philip, Prescott, Susan and Caplan, Michael. Scientific Review: the Role of Nutrients in Immune Function of Infants and Young Children, n.d. Web. 7th Feb 2014.

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Researchers Fishing For Cancer Cure Discover Active DHA Derivatives.” Science Daily, 2010. Web. 7th Feb 2014.

Granot, Esther., Jakobovich, Einat., Rabinowitz, Ruth., Levy, Paloma and Schlesinger, Michael. “DHA Supplementation during Pregnancy and Lactation affects Infants’ Cellular but not Humoral Immune Response.” Mediators of Inflammation (2011): 1-6.

Mousa, Shaker. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits throughout Life.” Nutrition Journal, 3(2012): 1-7.

Wood, Marilynn and Kerr, Janet. Basic Steps in Planning Nursing Research; from Question to Proposal. London: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2010.

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