Prenatal omega-3 fatty acid intake improves memory function at school age


The beneficial effects of prenatal and early postnatal intakes of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on cognitive development during infancy are well recognized but few studies have examined the extent to which these benefits continue throughout childhood. In this prospective, longitudinal study in Arctic Quebec, Inuit children (n = 154; mean age: 11.3 years) were assessed using a continuous visual recognition task to measure 2 event-related potential components related to recognition memory processing: the FN400 and the late positive component (LPC). Neurobehavioral assessments of memory were also made using the Digit span forward from Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children and the California Verbal Learning Test–Children’s Version. Children with higher cord plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were found to have a shorter FN400 latency and a larger LPC amplitude. Interestingly, these effects were observed regardless of seafood-contaminant amounts. Multiple regression analyses also showed positive associations between cord DHA concentrations and performance on neurobehavioral assessments of memory. The authors concluded that this study provides neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of long-term beneficial effects of n−3 PUFA intake in utero on memory function in school-age children. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May;93(5):1025-37. PMID: 21389181.


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