Neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of beneficial effects of prenatal omega-3 fatty acid intake on memory function at school age

Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 6.77). 03/2011; 93(5):1025-37. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.110.000323
Source: PubMed


The beneficial effects of prenatal and early postnatal intakes of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on cognitive development during infancy are well recognized. However, few studies have examined the extent to which these benefits continue to be evident in childhood.
The aim of this study was to examine the relation of n-3 PUFAs and seafood-contaminant intake with memory function in school-age children from a fish-eating community.
In a prospective, longitudinal study in Arctic Quebec, we assessed Inuit children (n = 154; mean age: 11.3 y) by using a continuous visual recognition task to measure 2 event-related potential components related to recognition memory processing: the FN400 and the late positive component (LPC). Children were also examined by using 2 well-established neurobehavioral assessments of memory: the Digit span forward from Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, 4th edition, and the California Verbal Learning Test-Children's Version.
Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed that children with higher cord plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is an important n-3 PUFA, had a shorter FN400 latency and a larger LPC amplitude; and higher plasma DHA concentrations at the time of testing were associated with increased FN400 amplitude. Cord DHA-related effects were observed regardless of seafood-contaminant amounts. Multiple regression analyses also showed positive associations between cord DHA concentrations and performance on neurobehavioral assessments of memory.
To our knowledge, this study provides the first neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of long-term beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA intake in utero on memory function in school-age children.

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    • "Some nutrients found in country foods may counterbalance MeHg toxicity (Chapman and Chan, 2000). In Nunavik, high long-chain n−3 PUFA intake during pregnancy is associated with several benefits including increased birth weight, and child's visual and memory functions (Boucher et al., 2011; Jacques et al., 2011; Lucas et al., 2004) and a lower prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors among adults (Ayotte et al., 2011; Dewailly et al., 2001b; Valera et al., 2009, 2011). High dietary Se intake may also contribute to offset some Hg-toxic effects among adults in Nunavik and other fish-eating populations (Ayotte et al., 2011; Fillion et al., 2013; Lemire et al., 2010b, 2011; Valera et al., 2009). "
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    • "Many women now use alternative therapies for postmenopausal health including dietary soy and isoflavone supplements instead of, or in addition to, traditional hormone therapy (Newton et al., 2002; Kurzer, 2003). Moreover, n − 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been suggested as being involved in the development and maintenance of learning memory performance (Gamoh et al., 1999; Hashimoto et al., 2009a, 2011; Dyall et al., 2010; Boucher et al., 2011). The n− 3 PUFAs ameliorated endothelial dysfunction in diabetic rats (Matsumoto et al., 2009), and led to attenuation of the contractile responses of isolated resistance arteries (MacLeod et al., 1994). "
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    • "The assessment of the adverse effects of contaminants in fish-eating populations is complicated by the fact that contaminated marine foods are also often rich in beneficial nutrients, such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) and selenium (Se). We have previously reported evidence of beneficial effects on development attributable to prenatal n-3 PUFA intake in this cohort (Boucher et al. 2011; Jacobson et al. 2008), which could obscure adverse effects of seafood contaminants. Se may mitigate the effects of Hg (Ganther et al. 1972; Jacobson 1992; Watanabe et al. 1999). "
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