Visual acuity and cognitive outcomes at 4 years of age in a double-blind, randomized trial of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid-supplemented infant formula

Early Hum Dev. 2007 May;83(5):279-84. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2006.11.003. Epub 2007 Jan 18.


Background: While there is a large body of data on the effects of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation of infant formula on visual and cognitive maturation during infancy, longterm visual and cognitive outcome data from randomized trials are scarce.

Aim: To evaluate docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA)-supplementation of infant formula on visual and cognitive outcomes at 4 years of age.

Methods: Fifty-two of 79 healthy term infants who were enrolled in a single-center, double-blind, randomized clinical trial of DHA and ARA supplementation of infant formula were available for follow-up at 4 years of age. In addition, 32 breast-fed infants served as a "gold standard". Outcome measures were visual acuity and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence--Revised.

Results: At 4 years, the control formula group had poorer visual acuity than the breast-fed group; the DHA- and DHA+ARA-supplemented groups did not differ significantly from the breast-fed group. The control formula and DHA-supplemented groups had Verbal IQ scores poorer than the breast-fed group.

Conclusion: DHA and ARA-supplementation of infant formula supports visual acuity and IQ maturation similar to that of breast-fed infants.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry
  • Infant Formula / pharmacology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Milk, Human
  • Visual Acuity / drug effects*


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid