Contact

Karen Henry
Life Span Institute
785-864-0756

DHA-enriched formula in infancy linked to positive cognitive outcomes in childhood

Tue, 08/13/2013

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas scientists have found that infants who were fed formula enriched with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) from birth to 12 months scored significantly better than a control group on several measures of intelligence conducted between the ages of 3 to 6 years.

John ColomboSpecifically, the children showed accelerated development on detailed tasks involving pattern discrimination, rule-learning and inhibition between the ages of 3 to 5 years of age as well as better performance on two widely used standardized tests of intelligence: the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test at age 5 and the Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence at age 6.

“These results support the contention that studies of nutrition and cognition should include more comprehensive and sensitive assessments that are administered multiple times through early childhood,” said John Colombo, study director and KU professor of psychology.

The results of LCPUFA supplementation studies have been mixed according to Colombo, a neuroscientist who specializes in the measurement of early neurocognitive development, but many of those studies have relied mainly on children’s performance on the Bayley Scal\es of Infant Development at 18 months.

In the randomized, double-blind study, 81 infants were fed one of four formulas from birth to 12 months; three with varying levels of two LCPUFAs (DHA and ARA) and one formula with no LCPUFA. Beginning at 18 months, the children were tested every 6 months until 6 years of age on age-appropriate standardized and specific cognitive tests.

At 18 months the children did not perform any better on standardized tests of performance and intelligence, but by age 3, study directors Colombo and Susan E. Carlson, A. J. Rice Professor of Dietetics and Nutrition at KUMC, began to see significant differences in the performance of children who were fed the enriched formulas on finer-grained, laboratory-based measures of several aspects of cognitive function.

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an essential long-chain fatty acid that affects brain and eye development, and babies derive it from their mothers before birth and up to age 2. But the American diet is often deficient in DHA sources such as fish.

ARA or arachidonic acid is another LCPUFA that is present in breast milk and commercial formula.

The study was designed to examine the effects of postnatal DHA at levels that have been found to vary across the world, said study co-director Carlson.

The results on the children’s development from the first 12 months of this study were published in Pediatric Research in 2011, and they showed improved attention and lower heart rate in infants supplemented with any level of LCPUFA. Colombo and Carlson’s earlier work and collaborations influenced infant formula manufacturers to begin adding DHA in 2001.

The study was published ahead of print in the June 2013 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.



For 50 years now, the Applied English Center has been the first stop for international students at KU. The center helps students adjust to the Kansas community by providing intensive English instruction, student services, and activities. “The Applied English Center is a cornerstone of the initiatives we undertake as an international research university. It has helped international students transition to studying at an American university, and has connected students and scholars at KU with their colleagues around the globe,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. Read more: http://bit.ly/10kpMmW Tags: #KUcommunities #InternationalStudents

#KUfacts : KU prepares firefighters, workers for grain engulfment rescue. http://t.co/sHa87mofmG #KUcommunities
Inside KU: Protein research, biodiesel fuel, and KU's Bioscience & Technology Business Center "Inside KU" takes a look at how the expanded Bioscience & Technology Business Center (http://bit.ly/1zzPvrw) brings a number of beneficial services to small start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between. Also: A KU startup at the BTBC, KanPro, is producing proteins for research in medicine, biotechnology, and life sciences (See http://bit.ly/1DSY3s9). KU Innovation and Collaboration focuses on turning the university’s research into industry (See http://bit.ly/ZTOKZF). The "Feedstock to Tailpipe Initiative" grows algae to provide a sustainable source for biodiesel fuel (See http://bit.ly/1oPRovz). Undergraduate Research Awards allow students to explore their fields deeper (See http://bit.ly/KUcugr). **The Time Warner Cable Sports Network's "Inside KU" is hosted by Jeannie Hodes.**


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times