Cognitive assessment of children at age 2.5 years after maternal fish oil supplementation in pregnancy: A randomised controlled trial

School of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition (Impact Factor: 3.12). 02/2008; 93(1):F45-50. DOI: 10.1136/adc.2006.099085
Source: PubMed


To assess the effects of antenatal omega 3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LC PUFA) on cognitive development in a cohort of children whose mothers received high-dose fish oil in pregnancy.
A double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial.
Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
98 pregnant women received the supplementation from 20 weeks' gestation until delivery. Their infants (n = 72) were assessed at age 2(1/2) years.
Fish oil (2.2 g docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 1.1 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/day) or olive oil from 20 weeks' gestation until delivery.
Effects on infant growth and developmental quotients (Griffiths Mental Development Scales), receptive language (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test) and behaviour (Child Behaviour Checklist).
Children in the fish oil-supplemented group (n = 33) attained a significantly higher score for eye and hand coordination (mean ((SD) score 114 (10.2)) than those in the placebo group (n = 39, mean score 108 (SD 11.3); p = 0.021, adjusted p = 0.008). Eye and hand coordination scores correlated with n-3 PUFA levels in cord blood erythrocytes (EPA: r = 0.320, p = 0.007; DHA: r = 0.308, p = 0.009) and inversely correlated with n-6 PUFA (arachidonic acid 20:4n-6: r = -0.331, p = 0.005). Growth measurements in the two groups were similar at age 2(1/2) years.
Maternal fish oil supplementation during pregnancy is safe for the fetus and infant, and may have potentially beneficial effects on the child's eye and hand coordination. Further studies are needed to determine the significance of this finding.

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    • "No 2.2 g/d Fish oil capsules (DHA/EPA 2:1) Weeks 20 to delivery 72 Griffiths Mental Development Scales Peabody Picture Vocabulary test 30 mo Eye-hand coordination favored. No clear effect on cognitive scores Dunstan et al. [20] No 800 mg/d Fish oil capsules (DHA/EPA 8:1) Weeks 19 to delivery 2399 BSID 12–18 mo "
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the implication of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, neurite outgrowth and to its high incorporation into the brain, this n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) is considered as crucial in the development and maintenance of the learning memory performance throughout life. In the present chapter we aimed at reviewing data investigating the relation between DHA and cognition during the perinatal period, young adult- and adulthood and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease (AD). In Humans, dietary DHA supplementation from the perinatal period to adulthood does not reveal a clear and consistent memory improvement whereas it is the case in animal studies. The positive effects observed in animal models may have been enhanced by using n-3 PUFA deficient animal models as controls. In animal models of AD, a general consensus on the beneficial effects of n-3 LCPUFA in attenuating cognitive impairment was established. These studies make DHA a potential suitable micronutrient for the maintenance of cognitive performance at all periods of life.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
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    • "It is well established that maternal fish oil supplementation during pregnancy substantially increases fetal DHA concentration at the time of birth (Larqué et al., 2012). Furthermore, two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that DHA supplementation during pregnancy offers significant benefit to infant neurocognitive development (Judge et al., 2007; Dunstan et al., 2008). However, the RCTs in this area are not easily comparable and positive effects have not been identified in all studies (Lo et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The proposal that dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) enhances neurocognitive functioning in term infants is controversial. Theoretical evidence, laboratory research and human epidemiological studies have convincingly demonstrated that DHA deficiency can negatively impact neurocognitive development. However, the results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of DHA supplementation in human term-born infants have been inconsistent. This article will (i) discuss the role of DHA in the human diet, (ii) explore the physiological mechanisms by which DHA plausibly influences neurocognitive capacity, and (iii) seek to characterize the optimal intake of DHA during infancy for neurocognitive functioning, based on existing research that has been undertaken in developed countries (specifically, within Australia). The major observational studies and RCTs that have examined dietary DHA in human infants and animals are presented, and we consider suggestions that DHA requirements vary across individuals according to genetic profile. It is important that the current evidence concerning DHA supplementation is carefully evaluated so that appropriate recommendations can be made and future directions of research can be strategically planned.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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    • "Researchers in Western Australia supplemented a small sample of women (n = 98) from 20 weeks of gestation until delivery with high dose (2200 mg) DHA or olive oil and showed significant improvements in hand and eye coordination in the supplemented group at 2½ years of age, after adjusting for maternal age, maternal education, and breastfeeding (Dunstan et al., 2008). These researchers also demonstrated better performance in other elements of cognitive development (locomotor, social, speech and hearing performance, and practical reasoning), evaluated using the Griffiths Mental Development Scales, and on language development, evaluated using the PPVT (Dunstan et al., 2008). However, these latter differences were not statistically significant, perhaps due to the relatively small sample size in the study. "
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    ABSTRACT: This review examines the current evidence for a possible connection between nutritional intake (including micronutrients and whole diet) and neurocognitive development in childhood. Earlier studies which have investigated the association between nutrition and cognitive development have focused on individual micronutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, folic acid, choline, iron, iodine, and zinc, and single aspects of diet. The research evidence from observational studies suggests that micronutrients may play an important role in the cognitive development of children. However, the results of intervention trials utilizing single micronutrients are inconclusive. More generally, there is evidence that malnutrition can impair cognitive development, whilst breastfeeding appears to be beneficial for cognition. Eating breakfast is also beneficial for cognition. In contrast, there is currently inconclusive evidence regarding the association between obesity and cognition. Since individuals consume combinations of foods, more recently researchers have become interested in the cognitive impact of diet as a composite measure. Only a few studies to date have investigated the associations between dietary patterns and cognitive development. In future research, more well designed intervention trials are needed, with special consideration given to the interactive effects of nutrients.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
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