Cardiometabolic Risk Factors at 5 Years After Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Infancy

Pediatrics. 2018 Jul;142(1):e20162623. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2623. Epub 2018 Jun 8.


Background: Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA) supplementation during infancy may reduce adult cardiovascular risk as observed in animals. We assessed the effect of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation in infancy on growth, body composition, and cardiometabolic risk factors at 5 years of age.

Methods: Infants were randomly assigned to a daily supplement of n-3 LCPUFA or olive oil (control) from birth to 6 months (n = 420). Measurements included weight, length, cord blood adipokines at birth and anthropometry, skinfolds, blood pressure, heart rate, fasting blood adipokines, and biochemistry at 5 years.

Results: The infants who received n-3 LCPUFA had a smaller waist circumference at 5 years (coefficient: 1.1 cm; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.01 to 2.14), which remained significant after adjustments for confounders (coefficient: 0.8 cm; 95% CI: 0.19 to 1.30). Five-year-old boys who received n-3 LCPUFA supplementation as infants had a 21% reduction in insulin concentrations (ratio: 0.79; 95% CI: 0.66 to 0.94) and a 22% reduction in insulin resistance (ratio: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.64 to 0.95) compared with the control group. There were no other differences in growth and cardiometabolic risk factors between the groups for the whole cohort at birth, 2.5, or 5 years.

Conclusions: Supplementation with n-3 LCPUFA in infancy revealed a reduction in waist circumference at 5 years. Boys in the n-3 LCPUFA group showed reduced insulin concentrations and insulin resistance at 5 years, which may have beneficial outcomes for later health. No effects were seen in girls. Longer term follow-up of the cohort is warranted to determine whether these differences are maintained into adolescence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Male
  • Risk Factors


  • Adipokines
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Insulin

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12606000281594