Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and neurological developmental outcome at 18 months in healthy term infants

Acta Paediatr. 2005 Jan;94(1):26-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2005.tb01783.x.


Aim: Previously, we found a beneficial effect of 2 mo supplementation of infant formula with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) on neurological condition at 3 mo in healthy term infants. The aim of the present follow-up study was to evaluate whether the effect on neurological condition persists until 18 mo.

Methods: A prospective, double-blind, randomized control study was conducted. Three groups were formed: a control (CF; n = 169), an LC-PUFA-supplemented (LF; n = 146) and a breastfed (BF; n = 159) group. Information on potential confounders was collected at enrolment. At the age of 18 mo, neurodevelopmental condition was assessed by the age-specific neurological examination of Hempel and the Bayley scales. The Hempel assessment resulted in a clinical neurological diagnosis, a total optimality score and a score on the fluency of motility. The Bayley scales resulted in mental and psychomotor developmental indices. Attrition at 18 mo was 5.5% and non-selective. Multivariate regression analyses were carried out to evaluate the effect of type of feeding while adjusting for confounders.

Results: None of the children had developed cerebral palsy and 23 (CF: n = 8; LF: n = 10; BF: n = 5) showed minor neurological dysfunction. The groups did not show statistically significant differences in clinical neurological condition, neurological optimality score, fluency score, and the psychomotor and mental development indices. Multivariate analysis confirmed that there was no effect of type of feeding on neurological condition.

Conclusion: This study indicates that the beneficial neurodevelopmental effect of 2 mo LC-PUFA supplementation in healthy term infants can not be detected at the age of 18 mo.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula*
  • Mental Processes / drug effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*


  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated