This study is the first randomized clinical trial of postnatal omega-3 DHA supplementation to measure attention.
DHA and ARA, two nutritional compounds markedly deficient in the American [Western] diet, are derived from:
- Mothers before birth
- Breast-feeding, up to age two
- Some infant formulas
DHA and ARA, positively affect:
- Brain development, infancy into childhood
- Eye development
- Nervous system development
- Immune support
The study found infants fed formula containing omega-3 DHA at 0.32% and 0.64% of fatty acids spent a greater percentage of time actively focusing on visual stimuli than infants fed formula with no DHA. The formula with even the lowest level of LCPUFA—0.3% level—was found to be sufficient to produce these benefits.
Infants who were fed LCPUFA-fortified formula vs. those infants who were fed formula without LCPUFA:
- Were more cognitively advanced
- Spent a greater percentage of time actively focusing on visual stimuli
- Had lower heart rates
Earlier work and collaborations by Colombo, et al. influenced infant formula manufacturers to begin adding DHA in 2001.
Finding: For infants who are not breast-fed, DHA-fortified infant formula is a safe and effective method of infant feeding.
Colombo J, et al. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in infancy reduces heart rate and positively affects distribution of attention.
Pediatr Res 2011 Oct;70(4):406–10.
Follow-up study: Colombo, et al. Long-term effects of LCPUFA supplementation on childhood cognitive outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr 2013 Aug;98(2):403–12.