Clinical Research Article | Published:

Perinatal nutrition impacts on the functional development of the visual tract in infants

Pediatric Research (2018) | Download Citation



Background and objective

We investigated the associations of maternal diet and serum fatty acids during pregnancy and in early infancy on infantile neurodevelopment.


Pattern-reversal visual evoked potentials (pVEP) as depictors of central nervous system maturation were recorded from 56 children when they were 2 years old. Maternal nutrient intakes were calculated from food diaries and fish consumption from questionnaires collected during pregnancy. Serum phospholipid fatty acids were determined by gas chromatography in late pregnancy and from infants at 1 month of age.


The children of the women who consumed fish three or more times per week during the last trimester of pregnancy had a higher pVEP component P100 amplitude for 60′ (mean 23.4, SD 8.1) and 30′ (mean 20.4, SD 6.7) of arcminute check sizes compared to those who consumed fish 0–2 times per week (mean 15.0, SD 4.8, p = 0.023, adjusted for birth weight and gender p = 0.058 and mean 13.4, SD 2.0, respectively, p = 0.028, adjusted p = 0.072). Maternal and child serum phospholipid fatty acids correlated with child pVEP measurements.


The results of this small-scale study suggest that fish consumption during pregnancy and perinatal serum fatty acid status may associate with neurodevelopment within visual system during infancy.

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The authors thank Tuija Poussa, Stat Consulting, and Simo Teperi, Department of Biostatistics, University of Turku, for performing the statistical analyses and Ewen MacDonald for revision of the English text. The clinical trial data collection was funded by Academy of Finland and Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Author information


  1. Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland

    • Jonna Normia
    •  & Erika Isolauri
  2. Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland

    • Katri Niinivirta-Joutsa
    •  & Satu K. Jääskeläinen
  3. Institute of Biomedicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

    • Kirsi Laitinen


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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Kirsi Laitinen.

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