Docosahexaenoic acid status at 9 months is inversely associated with communicative skills in 3-year-old girls

Sara Engel, Kathrine Marie Hagerup Tronhjem, Lars Hellgren, Kim F. Michaelsen, Lotte Lauritzen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The objective of the present observational study was to investigate if the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status assessed in infant erythrocytes (RBC) at 9 months was associated with the age when the infants reach developmental milestones and their psychomotor function at 3 years of age. Three hundred eleven healthy Danish children were followed from 9 months to 3 years of age (the SKOT cohort). RBC fatty acid composition was analysed by gas chromatography in 272 of the children. Milestone age was collected by questionnaires at 9 and 18 months and psychomotor development at 3 years of age was assessed by the parents using third edition of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3). RBC DHA levels ranged from 2.2% to 12.6% of the RBC fatty acids. The age of reaching milestones correlated with psychomotor development, particularly with gross motor function at 3 years. An association between milestones and later personal and social skills was also observed, but only for girls. In girls, RBC-DHA was found to be inversely correlated with communication at 3 years of age (odds ratio = 0.69, 95% confidence interval: 0.56-0.86, P = 0.001), but no other associations with psychomotor development or milestones were found. The results from study indicate that DHA status at 9 months may not have a pronounced beneficial effect on psychomotor development in early childhood and that communicative skills at 3 years of age may even be inversely associated with early RBC-DHA levels in girls.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)499-510
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • n-3 fatty acids
    • Brain development
    • Communication
    • Infant nutrition
    • Cohort study

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