PREGNANCY vitamins costing £15 a pack are a waste of cash, a study claims.
It found costly supplements containing fish oil do not boost brain development or IQ of babies.
A long-term study followed kids from birth to the age of seven.
It reveals expectant mums who took pregnancy supplements with fish oils did not have children with improved brain power, language or development skills.
The findings follow previous research that shows pregnancy multi-vitamins in general are pointless.
Instead, scientists concluded mums-to-be only need to ensure they get a daily top up of folic acid and vitamin D.
The new study looked at docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish, such as salmon, and also fish oil supplements.
Pregnancy vitamins containing DHA have become increasingly popular, with Pregnacare Plus costing £15.29 for a monthly supply at Boots.
The High Street chemist has also brought out their own version costing £12.99, while Seven Seas Pregnancy Plus costs £13.69.
The study split more than 600 pregnant women into two groups, with half receiving 800mg of DHA every day for the last half of their pregnancy and the other half receiving a dummy pill.
The results, published in JAMA, found no differences between the groups when it came to the children’s brain, language, and motor development at 18 months.
Further tests at age four still failed to show any benefit from the supplements.
However, researchers noted a possible negative effect on behaviour, and some mental skills.
Tests on 543 of the children aged seven found the average IQ in both groups was the same.
The research, led by a team at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, concluded: “This randomised clinical trial provides strong evidence for the lack of benefit of pre-natal DHA supplementation on IQ at seven years and cognition at 18 months and four years, despite higher numbers of pre-term children in the control group.
“Direct assessments consistently demonstrated no significant differences in language, academic abilities, or executive functioning.”
The team added: “The sale of prenatal supplements with DHA continues to increase, despite little evidence of benefit to offspring neurodevelopment.”
Last July, researchers writing in the Drug And Therapeutics Bulletin said pregnancy multivitamins are a waste of money.
A review found “no evidence” that multivitamins result in better health for a mother or her baby and were an “unnecessary expense”.
Instead, experts said women should focus on taking folic acid and vitamin D, which are available for a few pence per day.
Both are recommended by the NHS, alongside a healthy diet.
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