Long-term effects of LCPUFA supplementation on cognitive outcomes

Thursday, Feb 01, 2018


Colombo J, Carlson SE, Cheatham CL, Shaddy DJ, Kerling EH, Thodosoff JM, Gustafson KM, Brez C. Long-term effects of LCPUFA supplementation on childhood cognitive outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):403-12. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.040766. Epub 2013 Jun 26. Link to PubMed

  • Background:
    The effect of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) intake on cognitive development is a long-studied yet controversial topic.  Most clinical trials measured cognitive development at 18 months while cognitive abilities emerge later in childhood.
  • Method:
    • Eighty one 18-month old children who participated in LCPUFA supplementation trial as infants were recruited.
    • Age-appropriate, specific cognitive tests were conducted every 6 months from 18 months to 6 years old to test for cognitive development.
  • Key Findings:
    • At 18 months old, LCPUFA supplementation did not influence mental and psychomotor performance on standardized tests*.
    • LCPUFA supplemented groups showed significant positive difference from 3 to 5 years old on more specific or fine-grained tasks (such as rule-learning and inhibition tasks and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test at 5 y).
    • LCPUFA supplementation did not show a significant effect on tasks of spatial memory, simple inhibition nor advanced problem solving.
  • Conclusion:
    Effect of LCPUFA supplementation may not always be evident at 18 months and studies of nutrition and cognitive development should continue through early childhood.

*An earlier report, demonstrated increased sustained attention in LCPUFA supplemented groups compared to the control group at 9 months of age (Colombo et al., Pediatric Res 2011; 70:406-10).



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