Effects of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on visual and cognitive development throughout childhood: a review of human studies

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2007 Apr;76(4):189-203. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2007.01.003. Epub 2007 Mar 21.


The present paper evaluates the most recent randomized controlled trials assessing the efficacy of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation (with or without n-6 LCPUFA) during pregnancy, lactation, infancy and childhood on visual and cognitive development. Available evidence suggests a beneficial effect of maternal n-3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy and lactation on cognitive development of infants and children, but not for visual development. Evidence for an effect of LCPUFA supplementation of preterm and term infants on cognitive development of infants remains inconclusive. However, supplementing term infants with daily doses of 100 mg docosahexaenoic acid plus 200 mg arachidonic acid improves visual development as measured by electrophysiological tests. Evidence for benefits of n-3 LCPUFA on cognitive development in healthy children older than 2 years of age is too limited to allow a clear conclusion. Taken together, the evidence for potential benefits of LCPUFA supplementation is promising but yet inconclusive.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Cognition*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vision, Ocular*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated