Higher maternal DHA intake during pregnancy enhances memory function in school age children

Topics: Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), pregnancy, brain function, memory

Relevance to:  Efanatal, Efalex Mother & Baby

Background: The beneficial effects of DHA intake during pregnancy through either maternal diet or supplement use on cognitive development during infancy has been well known for over a decade. This knowledge has resulted in an official recommendation for women to consume at least 200 mg/DHA daily during pregnancy3.

Reference 1: Boucher O, Burden MJ, Muckle G, Saint-Amour D, Ayotte P et al. Neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of beneficial effects of prenatal omega-3 fatty acid intake on memory function at school age. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 May;93(5):1025-37.

Objective:  To examine the relationship between omega-3 LC-PUFA intake during pregnancy (and seafood contamination) with memory function in school-aged children from a fish eating community.

Method: This prospective, longitudinal study in Arctic Quebec, Canada, included 154 Inuit children (mean age 11.3 years) that were assessed as follows:

1)     Cord blood DHA (defines infant DHA status at birth and DHA exposure during pregnancy)

2)     Blood DHA status at time of testing

3)     Recognition memory processing using a continuous visual recognition task to measure 2 event-related potential components: the FN400 and the late positive component (LPC)

4)     Digit Span Forward from the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, 4th Edition

5)     California Verbal Learning Test – Children’s Version

(4 & 5 are neurobehavioral assessments of memory)

Findings: 1)  Children with higher cord blood DHA had shorter FN400 latency and larger LPC amplitude. These effects were regardless of seafood contaminant amount.

2)  Higher DHA at time of testing was associated with increased FN400 amplitude.

3)  Higher cord blood DHA was associated with better performance on neurobehavioral assessment of memory.

4) Shorter FN400 latency to NEW stimuli was associated with

–  faster reaction time to OLD & NEW stimuli on the CRT

–  better performance on the DSF

–  better short-delay free recall on the CVLT

5) Shorter FN400 latency to OLD stimuli was associated with

– faster reaction time to NEW & OLD stimuli on the CRT

– better performance on both free-recall trials on the CVLT

6)     The LPC amplitude to OLD & NEW stimuli was associated with

–  better discrimination accuracy and shorter reaction time in the CRT

–  longer auditory memory span on the DSF

–  better recall and recognition on the CVLT

Conclusion: Higher maternal DHA intake during pregnancy enhances memory function in school age children.

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