Assessing the effect of docosahexaenoic acid on cognitive functions in healthy, preschool children: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2008 May;47(4):355-62. doi: 10.1177/0009922807311730. Epub 2008 Jan 7.


The utility of multicenter cognitive test methodology and resultant outcomes of supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid in healthy 4-year-old children was evaluated in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Subjects received 400-mg/d docosahexaenoic acid (n = 85) or matching placebo (n = 90) in capsules for 4 months. Cognitive tests included the Leiter-R Test of Sustained Attention, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Day-Night Stroop Test, and Conners' Kiddie Continuous Performance Test. The relationship of docosahexaenoic acid levels in capillary whole blood from a subsample (n = 93) with scores on cognitive tests was evaluated. For each test, results indicated that changes from baseline to end of treatment were not statistically significantly different between the docosahexaenoic acid group and the placebo group. Regression analysis, however, yielded a statistically significant positive (P = .018) association between the blood level of docosahexaenoic acid and higher scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, a test of listening comprehension and vocabulary acquisition.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Comprehension / drug effects*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Tests / standards
  • Language Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids