45) A randomized controlled trial of early dietary supply of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and mental development in term infants

Birch EE et al; Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Mar; 42(3):174-81.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may confer an advantage in cognitive development. DHA in the diet of preterm or term infants has been associated with higher mental development scores (measured on the Mental Development Index)

DHA supplementation of preterm or term infant formula milks have employed measures of visual acuity as indices of the functional status of the brain.
MDI (Mental Development index) score at 18 months of age was positively correlated with plasma DHA at 4 months of age. To a higher MDI score in the DHA+AA-supplemented group, there was a trend toward higher prevalence of accelerated performance on the MDI in the DHA+AA-supplemented group.

Supplementation of milk-based term infant formula with 0.36% DHA alone was associated with a mean increase of 4 points on the MDI. Both the cognitive and motor subscales of the MDI showed a significant developmental age advantage for DHA and DHA+AA-supplemented groups over the control group.

Long term cognitive advantage of infant dietary DHA supply during the first 4months of life. Early dietary supply of DHA was a significant determinant of improved performance on the MDI.