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The role of DHA in maternal and early childhood


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Ken Stark, Susan E. Carlson



Ken Stark, PhD - University of Waterloo

Susan E. Carlson, PhD - University of Kansas


Dr. Stark's presentation entitled "Meeting Fetal Demand for DHA: Maternal Metabolic Adaptations" will examine changes in fatty acid and lipid metabolism during pregnancy and how this affects the maternal supply of DHA for the fetus.
Dr. Carlson's presentation entitled "DHA for preterm infants and in prevention of preterm birth" will summarize the early (and later work) on the importance of DHA in nutrition for preterm infants and more recent strong evidence that DHA can prevent preterm birth.


Upon completion of Dr. Stark's presentation, participants should be able to:

  1. Appreciate the difference between dietary deficiency on omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids versus DHA supplementation
  2. Understand that during pregnancy, mothers attempt to increase the availability of DHA for fetal uptake with or without dietary intake of DHA

Upon completion of Dr. Carlson's presentation, participants should be able to:

  1. Critically analyze published reports of DHA supplementation in pregnancy
  2. Guide pregnant women and those who could become pregnant on an optimal DHA intake

Moderator: David W.L. Ma, PhD - University of Guelph


Dr. Ken Stark is a Full Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo.  He received his B.Sc. (Honours) from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Guelph, and he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of Health.  Dr. Stark has over 130 peer-reviewed publications and he is known as a leader in the areas of fatty acid and lipid analytical methodology and the impact of diet on fatty acid metabolism.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids.  His insights on the use of blood biomarkers to assess the intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have led to international collaborations resulting in publications in high-impact journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Progress in Lipid Research and Cell Stem Cell. 

Dr. Susan E. Carlson is the AJ Rice Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition and a University Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. Medical Center. Carlson received her bachelor's degree from Washington State University, her PhD in nutrition from Iowa State University and did postdoctoral research funded by the National Institute of Heart Lung and Blood at the University of Wisconsin in the Department of Pathology and at the University of South Florida in the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Carlson was on the faculty of Departments of Pediatrics at the University of South Florida, University of Mississippi Medical Center and University of Tennessee, Memphis. She rose through the ranks to professor in Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Biochemistry at Tennessee where her major research interest was on the effects of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on brain development of preterm infants. After moving to Kansas City in 1997, she continued research on brain development in term infants and in infants born to women supplemented with the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, during pregnancy in collaboration with a team of cognitive and neuroscientists. Those studies, supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), led to the groups most recent NICHD-funded clinical trial to study the effect of DHA on reducing the risk of preterm birth. That primary results of that study were published in 2021 and the data collected have been the subject of an additional 15 published papers.

Dr. Carlson is a charter member of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids where she served as an elected officer for 9 years and was awarded the Alexander Leaf Award. She is a past consulting editor for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition, emerita of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and honorary member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her awards include the March of Dimes Agnes Higgins Award for pioneering research benefiting women and children, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Who’s Who Albert Nelson Marquis.


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Original Source: "CNS Education Webinars" Thursday, October 26, 2023

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Length: 1:18:21

Type: File

Last Updated: October 27, 2023

Name Type
Meeting Fetal Demand for DHA: Maternal Metabolic Adaptations File
DHA for Preterm Infants and in Prevention of Preterm Birth File
Recording - The role of DHA in maternal and early childhood Video
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