Impact of fatty acid status on growth and neurobehavioural development in humans

Maria Makrides, Carmel Collins, Robert Gibson

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    70 Citations (Scopus)


    Many studies have been conducted to investigate the effect of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) supplementation during the perinatal period on the growth and neurobehavioural development of young children. Most of these intervention trials have involved infants from high-income countries, and a significant proportion have investigated supplementation of infant formulas. Generally, supplementation of infant formula for preterm rather than term infants has demonstrated more consistent, positive effects on aspects of neurobehavioural development, while the growth of both term and preterm infants appears unaffected by LCPUFA supplementation. Maternal n-3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy has consistently resulted in modest increases in birth size, and the most recent study suggests that this is also true from women from low-income environments. The effect of maternal supplementation on global neurobehavioural outcomes for children born at term remains unclear, although n-3 LCPUFA supplementation of women expressing milk for their preterm infants does improve their performance on tests of global neurodevelopment. Further work is required to determine whether dietary n-3 LCPUFA is neuroprotective for children from disadvantaged or low-income backgrounds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)80-88
    Number of pages9
    JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
    Issue numberSuppl. 2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


    • Docosahexaenoic acid
    • Growth
    • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
    • Neonatal
    • Neurodevelopment
    • Perinatal


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