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Maternal and pediatric nutrition

Effects of LC-PUFA supply via complementary food on infant development—a food based intervention (RCT) embedded in a total diet concept



With the introduction of complementary food, long-chain PUFA (LC-PUFA) supply usually decreases during the second 6 months of life. However, the need for LC-PUFA is still high for infant’s rapid development. The aim of this randomized, controlled intervention trial was to examine the effects of an increased n-3 (LC-)PUFA supply using alternative complementary foods on infants’ visual and cognitive development.


Mother–child dyads of term infants were recruited in maternity hospitals and randomly assigned to one of three study groups, which all were fed according to the German dietary schedule for infant nutrition. Intervention group IG-R (n = 54) received jars of complementary food with rapeseed oil, IG-F (n = 48) jars with oily fish twice a week and the control group (CG, n = 58) the same jars as IG-R with corn oil instead of rapeseed oil during the intervention period (5th–10th month of age). The outcome measures were latencies of FVEP, Bayley’s mental developmental index (MDI), and psychomotor developmental index (PDI).


At 10 months of age, there were no significant differences in latencies of FVEP, Bayley’s MDI, or in PDI index between the intervention and control groups.


Fish and rapeseed oil used as (LC-)PUFA sources provided with complementary feeding embedded in a structured infant diet did not affect visual or cognitive development of term infants.

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The authors thank the parents and their children for their participation in the PINGU study and the nine maternity clinics (Klinikum Dortmund, St. Johannes Hospital Dortmund, Knappschaftskrankenhaus Dortmund, St. Josefs Hospital Dortmund-Hörde, Marienkrankenhaus Schwerte, St. Marien-Hospital Lünen, Allgemeines Krankenhaus Hagen, Marienhospital Witten, and Ev. Krankenhaus Hagen-Haspe) for allowing the sample recruitment. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank Prof. Dr Walter Krämer (TU Dortmund, Germany), Oliver Brosig and Konstantin Lang (Chrestos Concept GmbH & Co.KG, Ratingen, Germany) for their support and advice regarding the statistical analyses.


The PINGU study was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the priority program on Nutritional Research for a Healthy Life; Module Innovations and New Ideas for the Nutritional Sector. Support code: 01EA1335A. HiPP GmbH & Co. Vertrieb KG, Pfaffenhofen, Germany provided the study food free of charge. The company was not involved in data analysis or interpretation.

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The contributions of the authors were as follows—MK and HK designed research; MK coordinated the study parts; LL supervised the intervention trial and HK supervised the clinical examinations; CMM and MS managed study program; CMM analyzed data and together with HK drafted paper; AI and CS conducted the FVEP; LB and REP conducted the BSID II; BK, PW, MS, LL, and MK provided critical input on the data analyses and on the early versions of the paper. All authors contributed to interpretation of the data and revisions of the paper. HK and CMM contributed equally to the paper (shared first authorship) LL and MK contributed equally to the paper (shared last authorship)

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Correspondence to Hermann Kalhoff.

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Kalhoff, H., Mesch, C.M., Stimming, M. et al. Effects of LC-PUFA supply via complementary food on infant development—a food based intervention (RCT) embedded in a total diet concept. Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 682–690 (2020).

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