A critical appraisal of the role of dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on neural indices of term infants: A randomized, controlled trial

Maria Makrides, Mark A. Neumann, Karen Simmer, Robert A. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. To determine whether dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid, affect visual evoked potential (VEP) acuity of formulated infants, relative to breasted infants. A secondary objective was to assess the effect of LCPUFA on Bayley's mental developmental index (MDI) and psychomotor developmental index (PDI). Methods. Formula-fed infants were randomly allocated, in a double-blind manner, to either a placebo (no LCPUFA; n = 21), DHA supplemented (n = 23), or DHA+arachidonic acid supplemented formula (n = 24). Infants were fed their assigned formula from the first week of life until 1 year of age. A parallel reference group of breasted infants was recruited and followed (n = 46). Infant VEP acuity was assessed at 16 and 34 weeks, and Bayley's MDI and PDI were assessed at 1 and 2 years of age. Results. There were no differences among the randomized formula groups for VEP acuity at either 16 or 34 weeks of age. Breasted infants had better VEP acuity at 34 weeks of age, but not at 16 weeks, compared with all formula-fed infants. Bayley's MDI and PDI were similar in the 3 formula-fed groups at 1 and 2 years. Breasted infants had higher MDI scores than formula-fed infants at 2 years of age even after adjusting for environmental variables. Conclusions. LCPUFA supplementation did not influence VEP acuity development in these well-nourished, formula-fed infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
Number of pages7
Issue number1 I
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Breast milk
  • Development
  • Docosahexaenoic acid
  • Infant formula
  • Infants
  • Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Visual evoked potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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