A vegetable fat-based diet delays psychomotor and cognitive development compared with maternal dairy fat intake in infant gray mouse lemurs

Commun Biol. 2024 May 20;7(1):609. doi: 10.1038/s42003-024-06255-w.


Dairy fat has a unique lipid profile; it is rich in short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids that induce ketone production and has a balanced ω6/ω3 ratio that promotes cognitive development in early life. Moreover, the high consumption of vegetable oils in pregnant and lactating women raises concerns regarding the quality of lipids provided to offspring. Here, we investigate maternal dairy fat intake during gestation and lactation in a highly valuable primate model for infant nutritional studies, the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Two experimental diets are provided to gestant mouse lemurs: a dairy fat-based (DF) or vegetable fat-based diet (VF). The psychomotor performance of neonates is tested during their first 30 days. Across all tasks, we observe more successful neonates born to mothers fed a DF diet. A greater rate of falls is observed in 8-day-old VF neonates, which is associated with delayed psychomotor development. Our findings suggest the potential benefits of lipids originating from a lactovegetarian diet compared with those originating from a vegan diet for the psychomotor development of neonates.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cheirogaleidae* / physiology
  • Cognition*
  • Dairy Products
  • Dietary Fats*
  • Female
  • Lactation
  • Male
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychomotor Performance