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: 6.5). 03/2011; 93(5):1025-37.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Country foods are central to Inuit culture and replete in selenium (Se) and long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA). However, some marine country foods bioaccumulate high concentrations of methylmercury (MeHg). Se and n-3 are associated with several health benefits in Nunavik, Northern Quebec, but, recent studies show that prenatal MeHg exposure is associated with visual, cognitive and behavioral deficit later in childhood. The study objectives are to identify contemporary country food sources of MeHg, Se and long-chain n-3 PUFA in Nunavik, particularly among childbearing-age women, taking into account regional differences in consumption profiles. The contribution of different country foods to daily MeHg, Se, long-chain n-3 PUFA intake (μg/kg body weight/day) was estimated using: (i) country food consumption and blood biomarkers data from the 2004 Nunavik Health Survey (387 women, 315 men), and (ii) data on MeHg, Se, long-chain n-3 PUFA concentrations found in Nunavik wildlife species. In the region where most traditional beluga hunting takes place in Nunavik, the prevalence of at-risk blood Hg (≥8μg/L) in childbearing-age women was 78.4%. While most country foods presently consumed contain low MeHg, beluga meat, not a staple of the Inuit diet, is the most important contributor to MeHg: up to two-thirds of MeHg intake in the beluga-hunting region (0.66 of MeHg intake) and to about one-third in other regions. In contrast, seal liver and beluga mattaaq - beluga skin and blubber - only mildly contributed to MeHg (between 0.06 and 0.15 of MeHg intake), depending on the region. Beluga mattaaq also highly contributed to Se intake (0.30 of Se intake). Arctic char, beluga blubber and mattaaq, and seal blubber contributed to most long-chain n-3 PUFA intake. This study highlights the importance of considering interconnections between local ecosystems and dietary habits to develop recommendations and interventions promoting country foods' benefits, while minimizing the risk of MeHg from beluga meat, especially for childbearing-age women.
    Science of The Total Environment 08/2014; · 3.16 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Nutritional insufficiencies of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) may have adverse effects on brain development and neurodevelopmental outcomes. A recent meta-analysis reported a small to modest effect size for the efficacy of omega-3 in youth. Several controlled trials of omega-3 HUFAs combined with micronutrients show sizable reductions in aggressive, antisocial, and violent behavior in youth and young adult prisoners. Studies of HUFAs in youth, however, remain lacking. As the evidence base for omega-3 HUFAs as potential psychiatric treatment develops, dietary adjustments to increase omega-3 and reduce omega-6 HUFA consumption are sensible recommendations based on general health considerations.
    Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 07/2014; · 2.60 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Methylmercury, a worldwide contaminant of fish and seafood, can cause adverse effects on the developing nervous system. However, long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in seafood provide beneficial effects on brain development. Negative confounding will likely result in underestimation of both mercury toxicity and nutrient benefits unless mutual adjustment is included in the analysis. Methods We examined these associations in 176 Faroese children, in whom prenatal methylmercury exposure was assessed from mercury concentrations in cord blood and maternal hair. The relative concentrations of fatty acids were determined in cord serum phospholipids. Neuropsychological performance in verbal, motor, attention, spatial, and memory functions was assessed at 7 years of age. Multiple regression and structural equation models (SEMs) were carried out to determine the confounder-adjusted associations with methylmercury exposure. Results A short delay recall (in percent change) in the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT) was associated with a doubling of cord blood methylmercury (− 18.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] = − 36.3, -1.51). The association became stronger after the inclusion of fatty acid concentrations in the analysis (− 22.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = − 39.4, -4.62). In structural equation models, poorer memory function (corresponding to a lower score in the learning trials and short delay recall in CVLT) was associated with a doubling of prenatal exposure to methylmercury after the inclusion of fatty acid concentrations in the analysis (− 1.94, 95% CI = − 3.39, -0.49). Conclusions Associations between prenatal exposure to methylmercury and neurobehavioral deficits in memory function at school age were strengthened after fatty acid adjustment, thus suggesting that n-3 fatty acids need to be included in analysis of similar studies to avoid underestimation of the associations with methylmercury exposure.
    Neurotoxicology and Teratology 03/2014; · 3.22 Impact Factor


Available from
May 17, 2014