Effects of High-Dose Fish Oil Supplementation During Early Infancy on Neurodevelopment and Language: A Randomised Controlled Trial

Br J Nutr. 2012 Oct 28;108(8):1443-54. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511006878. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Abstract

n-3 Long-chain PUFA (LC-PUFA) intake during infancy is important for neurodevelopment; however, previous studies of n-3 LC-PUFA supplementation have been inconclusive possibly due to an insufficient dose and limited methods of assessment. The present study aimed to evaluate the effects of direct supplementation with high-dose fish oil (FO) on infant neurodevelopmental outcomes and language. In the present randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 420 healthy term infants were assigned to receive a DHA-enriched FO supplement (containing at least 250 mg DHA/d and 60 mg EPA/d) or a placebo (olive oil) from birth to 6 months. Assessment occurred at 18 months via the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (3rd edition; BSID-III) and the Child Behavior Checklist. Language assessment occurred at 12 and 18 months via the Macarthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory. The FO group had significantly higher erythrocyte DHA (P = 0·03) and plasma phospholipid DHA (P = 0·01) levels at 6 months of age relative to placebo. In a small subset analysis (about 40% of the total population), children in the FO group had significantly higher percentile ranks of both later developing gestures at 12 and 18 months (P = 0·007; P = 0·002, respectively) and the total number of gestures (P = 0·023; P = 0·006, respectively). There was no significant difference between the groups in the standard or composite scores of the BSID-III. The results suggest that improved postnatal n-3 LC-PUFA intake in the first 6 months of life using high-dose infant FO supplementation was not beneficial to global infant neurodevelopment. However, some indication of benefits to early communicative development was observed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Language*
  • Phospholipids / chemistry

Substances

  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Phospholipids
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid