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Lipids. 1996 Mar;31 Suppl:S167-76.

Role of essential fatty acids in the function of the developing nervous system.

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Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA), University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.


The basis for n-3 fatty acid essentially in humans includes not only biochemical evidence but functional measures associated with n-3 deficiency in human and nonhuman primates. Functional development of the retina and the occipital cortex are affected by alpha-linolenic acid deficiency and by a lack of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in preterm infant formulas and, as reported more recently, in term diets. Functional effects of n-3 supply on sleep-wake cycles and heart rate rhythms support the need for dietary n-3 fatty acids during early development. Our results indicate that n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids should be considered provisionally essential for infant nutrition. DHA may also be required by individuals with inherited metabolic defects in elongation and desaturation activity, such as patients with peroxisomal disorders and some forms of retinitis pigmentosa.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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