Pregnancy is associated with a reduction in maternal serum docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6 n-3) percentage and its possible depletion in the maternal store.

Since the synthesis of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) in the fetus and placenta is low, both the maternal LCPUFA status and placental function are critical for their supply to the fetus.

Maternal supplementation with DHA up to 1 g/d or 2·7 g n-3 LCPUFA did not have any harmful effect. DHA supplementation in large studies slightly the enhanced length of gestation (by about 2 days), which may increase the birth weight by about 50 g at delivery. However no advice can be given on their general using to avoid preterm deliveries in low or high risk pregnancies.

Several studies, but not all, reported improvements of the offspring in some neurodevelopmental tests as a result of DHA supplementation during gestation, or, at least, positive relationships between maternal or cord serum DHA percentages and cognitive skills in young children. The effect seems more evident in children with low DHA proportions, which raises the question of how to identify those mothers who might have a poor DHA status and who could benefit from such supplementation. Most studies on the effects of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy on maternal depression were judged to be of low-to-moderate quality, mainly due to small sample sizes and failure to adhere to Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials guidelines.

In contrast, the effects of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on reducing allergic diseases in offspring are promising.