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Dev Neurosci. 2000 Sep-Dec;22(5-6):494-9.

Effect of docosahexaenoic acid content of maternal diet on auditory brainstem conduction times in rat pups.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL 33606, USA. jstockar@com1.med.usf.edu


Previous studies of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3) effects on neurodevelopment have focused mainly on effects on the visual system; these studies may be confounded by effects on the retina rather than on neural pathways. Auditory brainstem conduction times (ABCTs) provide an alternate measure of central neural development. We conducted a dose-response study in which ABCTs were measured in pups whose dams were fed diets containing one of three levels of DHA (2, 4 or 6% of total fatty acids) from a single cell oil. Diets were fed during pregnancy and lactation, and pups were randomly cross-fostered on postnatal day 3 to minimize litter effects. ABCTs showed a dose-response effect, with higher levels of dietary DHA being associated with longer conduction times on postnatal day 31 (p < 0.05). Higher dietary DHA was reflected in pup cerebrums collected on postnatal days 3 and 31, and levels of arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) were inversely related to levels of DHA. This study demonstrated that the auditory brainstem response is sensitive for identifying effects of diet on neurodevelopment, and that supplementing the maternal diet with high levels of DHA may negatively impact development of the central auditory system of offspring.

Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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