Maternal Supplementation With Very-Long Chain n-3 Fatty Acids During Pregnancy and Lactation Augments Children’s IQ at Four Years of Age
Vol. 111, No. 1, January 2003, pp. e39-e44
Ingrid B. Helland, MD, Lars Smith, PhD, Kristin Saarem, PhD, Ola D. Saugstad, MD, PhD, and Christian A. Drevon, MD, PhD
- Docosahexanoic acid (DHA; 22:6 n-3) and arachidonic acid (AA; 20:4 n-6) are critical for development of the central nervous system.
- The growth spurt in the human brain during the last trimester of pregnancy and the first postnatal months require a large increase in AA and DHA.
- The fetus and the newborn infant depend on maternal supply of DHA and AA.
- The ability of the fetus and the newborn to convert vegetarian plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, also known as short-chain omega-3s, like flax seed oil (alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 n-3)) to EPA and DHA is inadequate.
- Therefore, maternal very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status (20 carbon long EPA and 22 carbon long DHA) during pregnancy is critical for fetal brain development.
- Formulas rarely contain adequate concentrations of the long-chain PUFAs.
- A child’s mental processing and mental development scores and intelligence at age 4 are significantly correlated with maternal intake of DHA and EPA during pregnancy.
Credit given to Dan Murphy, DC for this review.