Lipids

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 637–645

Fish Oil Supplementation During Lactation: Effects on Cognition and Behavior at 7 Years of Age

  • Carol L. Cheatham
  • Anne Sofie Nerhammer
  • Marie Asserhøj
  • Kim F. Michaelsen
  • Lotte Lauritzen
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11745-011-3557-x

Cite this article as:
Cheatham, C.L., Nerhammer, A.S., Asserhøj, M. et al. Lipids (2011) 46: 637. doi:10.1007/s11745-011-3557-x

Abstract

Early accumulation of n-3 long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) in the brain may contribute to differences in later cognitive abilities. In this study, our objective was to examine whether fish oil (FO) supplementation during lactation affects processing speed, working memory, inhibitory control, and socioemotional development at 7 years. Danish mothers (n = 122) were randomized to FO [1.5 g/d n-3 LCPUFA] or olive oil (OO) supplementation during the first 4 months of lactation. The trial also included a high-fish intake (HFI) reference group (n = 53). Ninety-eight children were followed-up with an assessment of processing speed, an age-appropriate Stroop task, and the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire at 7 year. A group effect of the intervention (FO vs. OO) was found in prosocial behavior scores; this negative effect was carried by the boys. Exploratory analyses including all participants revealed the speed of processing scores were predicted by maternal n-3 LCPUFA intake during the intervention period (negative relation) and maternal education (positive relation). Stroop scores indicative of working memory and inhibitory control were predicted by infant erythrocyte DHA status at 4 months of age (negative relation). Early fish oil supplementation may have a negative effect on later cognitive abilities. Speed of processing and inhibitory control/working memory are differentially affected, with speed of processing showing effects of fish oil intake as a whole, whereas inhibitory control/working memory was related more specifically to DHA status.

Keywords

n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acidsInterventionCognitionExecutive functionProgramming

Abbreviations

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid

DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid

LCPUFA

Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

RBC

Red blood cell

RCT

Randomized control trial

SDQ

Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire

Copyright information

© AOCS 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol L. Cheatham
    • 1
  • Anne Sofie Nerhammer
    • 2
  • Marie Asserhøj
    • 2
  • Kim F. Michaelsen
    • 2
  • Lotte Lauritzen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Nutrition of Life SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksbergDenmark