Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids have a positive effect on the quality of general movements of healthy term infants

H Bouwstra, DAJ Dijck-Brouwer, JAL Wildeman, HM Tjoonk, JC van der Heide, ER Boersma, FAJ Muskiet, M Hadders-Algra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Whether long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) play a role in the development of the young nervous system in term infants is debated.

Objective: We investigated whether supplementation of formula with LCPs for 2 mo improves the quality of general movements (GMs) in healthy term infants at 3 mo of age.

Design: A prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled study was conducted with 2 groups of healthy term infants: a control-formula (CF) group (n = 131) and an LCP-supplemented-formula (LF) group (n = 119). A breastfed (BF) group (n = 147) served as a reference. Information on potential confounders was collected at enrollment. Videotapes were made of the infants' spontaneous motor behavior at 3 mo of age to assess the quality of their GMs. On the basis of quality, normal GMs were classified as normal-optimal or normal-suboptimal, and abnormal GMs were classified as mildly or definitely abnormal. Attrition at 3 mo of age was 15% and nonselective. Multivariate regression analyses with adjustment for confounders were carried out to evaluate the effect of the type of feeding.

Results: None of the infants had definitely abnormal GMs. Infants in the CF group had mildly abnormal GMs significantly more often than did infants in the LF and BF groups (31% compared with 19% and 20%, respectively). Infants in the BF group had normal-optimal GMs more frequently than did infants in the LF and CF groups (34% compared with 18% and 21%, respectively). Logistic regression analyses confirmed these findings.

Conclusion: Supplementation of healthy term infants with LCPs during the first 2 mo of life reduces the occurrence of mildly abnormal GMs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2003


  • general movements
  • long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • infants
  • nutrition
  • nervous system
  • motor development
  • breastfeeding
  • term infants
  • n-3 fatty acids
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • DIET

Cite this