A randomized study of the effects of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on infant problem solving at 10 months of age

J. S. Forsyth, P. Willatts, M. K. DiModugno, S. Varma, M. Colvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are important for normal visual and brain development. Although present in human milk, LCPUFA have until recently been absent from artificial formulas, and infants may have limited ability to synthesize LCPUFA. To determine the clinical significance of this relative deficiency of LCPUFA, we undertook a randomized prospective study of the relationship of LCPUFA to infant cognitive behaviour.

44 healthy term infants were randomized to a formula either supplemented with LCPUFA (n = 21) or not supplemented with LCPUFA (n = 23). Infant cognitive behaviour was assessed at 10 months of age using measures of means-end problem solving, which is defined as the deliberate and planful execution of a sequence of steps to achieve a goal. The problem required completion of three intermediate steps to achieve a final goal. Infants who received LCPUFA supplemented formula had significantly more solutions than infants who received the No-LCPUFA formula (p <.02). Intentions scores were also increased in this group (p <.04), with the third step being most discriminating (p = 0.005).

The cognitive behaviour of term infants may improve with LCPUFA supplementation, with the effects persisting beyond the period of supplementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453
Number of pages1
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1998


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