Original Communication

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003) 57, 89–95. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601506

Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids at birth and cognitive function at 7 y of age

E C Bakker1,*,, A J A Ghys2,, A D M Kester3,, J S H Vles4,, J S Dubas5,, C E Blanco6, and G Hornstra7,

  1. 1Department of Human Biology, Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Medical, Clinical and Experimental Psychology, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Methodology and Statistics, Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Neurology, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands
  5. 5Institute of Family and Child Care Studies, Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  6. 6Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands
  7. 7Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands

Correspondence: E C Bakker, Department of Human Biology, Universiteit Maastricht, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands. E-mail: e.bakker@hb.unimaas.nl

*Guarantor: EC Bakker

Contributors: EB contributed to the study design, carried out the field work, analysed the data, contributed to the interpretation of the results and wrote the paper. AG contributed to the study design, the interpretation of the results and the writing of the paper. AK contributed to the study design, the statistical analysis of the data, and the writing of the paper. JV was responsible for the neurological examination of all participating children, contributed to the interpretation of the results and reviewed the paper. JD was responsible for the data on parenting skills, and reviewed the paper. CEB and GH supervised the project, contributed to the study design and the interpretation of the results and reviewed the paper.

Received 23 August 2001; Revised 4 April 2002; Accepted 9 April 2002.

Top

Abstract

Objective: During the central nervous system (CNS) growth spurt, rapid accretion of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) takes place. This particularly concerns docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6), which are thought to play important roles in CNS development and function. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between cognitive performance at 7 y of age and LCPUFA levels in umbilical venous plasma phospholipids, representing the prenatal fatty acid availability, and in plasma phospholipids sampled at 7 y.

Design: As part of a follow-up study, the cognitive performance of 306 children, born at term, was assessed at 7 y of age with the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children. Backward stepwise regression analysis was used to study the relationship between the outcomes and LCPUFA status. Social class, maternal intelligence and parenting skills were included as covariables, among others.

Results: Results show no significant association with either DHA or AA at birth and the cognitive performance at 7 y of age. The LCPUFA levels at 7 y were not associated with these outcomes either. Consistent with the literature, significant relationships were found between cognitive outcome measures and maternal education, maternal intelligence and the child's birthweight.

Conclusion: In conclusion, our results do not provide evidence for a positive association between cognitive performance at 7 y and LCPUFA status at birth or at 7 y of age.

Sponsorship: University Hospital Maastricht (Profileringsfonds: financial support) and Royal Numico, Wageningen, The Netherlands (blinded fatty acid analyses of the blood samples at follow-up).

Keywords:

arachidonic acid (AA), cognitive function, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA)

Extra navigation

.

natureevents

ADVERTISEMENT