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Matern Child Nutr. 2013 Oct;9(4):499-510. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2012.00411.x. Epub 2012 May 29.

Docosahexaenoic acid status at 9 months is inversely associated with communicative skills in 3-year-old girls.

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  • 1Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark Department of System Biology, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark (BLH).


The objective of the present observational study was to investigate if the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status assessed in infant erythrocytes (RBC) at 9 months was associated with the age when the infants reach developmental milestones and their psychomotor function at 3 years of age. Three hundred eleven healthy Danish children were followed from 9 months to 3 years of age (the SKOT cohort). RBC fatty acid composition was analysed by gas chromatography in 272 of the children. Milestone age was collected by questionnaires at 9 and 18 months and psychomotor development at 3 years of age was assessed by the parents using third edition of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3). RBC DHA levels ranged from 2.2% to 12.6% of the RBC fatty acids. The age of reaching milestones correlated with psychomotor development, particularly with gross motor function at 3 years. An association between milestones and later personal and social skills was also observed, but only for girls. In girls, RBC-DHA was found to be inversely correlated with communication at 3 years of age (odds ratio = 0.69, 95% confidence interval: 0.56-0.86, P = 0.001), but no other associations with psychomotor development or milestones were found. The results from study indicate that DHA status at 9 months may not have a pronounced beneficial effect on psychomotor development in early childhood and that communicative skills at 3 years of age may even be inversely associated with early RBC-DHA levels in girls.


brain development; cohort study; communication; infant nutrition; n-3 fatty acids

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