The Role of Long-Chain Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (LCPUFA) in Growth and Development

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Abstract

It is debatable whether supplementation of infant formula with LCPUFA has an effect on infant growth and development. Up till now, there is little evidence of a negative effect on infant growth. A review of randomized controlled trials in term infants revealed that LCPUFA, in particularly supplementation with ≥ 0.30% DHA, seems to have a beneficial effect on neurodevelopmental outcome up to 4 months of age. The studies could not demonstrate a consistent positive effect beyond that age. However, in the majority of studies neurodevelopmental outcome was assessed between 6 to 24 months, i.e. at an age where there is a ‘latency’ in the expression of minor neurological dysfunction. Thus it is possible that LCPUFA might have a long lasting beneficial effect on neurodevelopmental outcome at school-age and beyond. This hypothesis urgently needs testing.