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Prenatal maternal docosahexaenoic acid intake and infant information processing at 4.5mo and 9mo: a longitudinal study

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Article numbere0210984
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>13/02/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS ONE
Issue number2
Volume14
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Previous research suggesting an association between maternal prenatal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake and infant cognition has yet to assess whether there is a critical trimester for the observed effects. We used a comprehensive Food Frequency Questionnaire to estimate DHA levels during both the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, in a sample of 125 pregnant women. Infants were assessed at 4.5 months and 9 months post-partum using specific tests of visual acuity, habituation, and visual attention. Based on maternal DHA levels during pregnancy, mothers were subdivided into high, medium, and low groups, and their infants compared for task performance using one-way ANOVAs with maternal DHA groups. On the 9 month visual acuity test, infants whose mothers were in the medium DHA group performed significantly better than those with mothers in the low or high DHA groups (p = 0.008). However, no significant finding was found for any of the other cognitive assessment measures. Despite a number of studies reporting a positive effect of higher DHA levels on cognitive development, this study fails to support those conclusions. We can, however, conclude that it appears to be DHA intake in the third trimester specifically, which is influencing the development of visual acuity towards the end of the first postnatal year. © 2019 Rees et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.