Omega-3 Fatty-Acid Intake Improves Neurodevelopment in Preterm Girls. Good Confirmation for those with Dementia??

If this is true for brain development in early life, then in my mind it is a good confirmation that the omega-3 fatty acids really are good for our brain at any age. But what about those little boys??

Omega-3 Fatty-Acid Intake Improves Neurodevelopment in Preterm Girls

By Allison Gandey

January 15, 2009 — Investigators observed an 80% reduction in the proportion of baby girls with significant mental delays when they had a diet rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are the findings of a randomized controlled trial published in the January 14, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Although the researchers did not see statistically significant benefits in boys or babies born weighing less than 1250 g, they say that there appeared to be a reduction in the proportion of babies with significant mental delay in these groups with high-DHA treatment.

“We recommend increased DHA for all preterm infants born at less than 33 weeks’ gestation,” lead author Maria Makrides, PhD, from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, Australia told Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery.

We think that the level of DHA used in the treatment arm of our study should become the new gold standard for preterm infants.

“We think that the level of DHA used in the treatment arm of our study should become the new gold standard for preterm infants, whether it is supplied through breast milk or infant formula,” Dr. Makrides said.

“It is important to note that we did not find negative effects of increasing the dietary DHA content. The high-DHA babies grew as well as those fed standard DHA, and we have confidence that the level of DHA used in the study — around 1% of the total dietary fat — was safe,” she added.

Mental Development Index Higher Among Girls Receiving Fatty Acids

The research team randomly assigned babies born at less than 33 weeks’ gestation to either a high-DHA diet or a standard-DHA diet from about day 4 of life until the time they were due to be born. Infants were from 5 Australian tertiary hospitals.

“An important and unique aspect of the study was that the intervention was largely delivered to the baby through expressed breast milk,” Dr. Makrides said. “We supplemented nursing women with about 1 g of DHA per day in tuna-oil supplements to increase the DHA content of their milk.” If the mother could not express enough breast milk for her baby, an infant formula with a matching DHA content was provided.

Of the 657 infants enrolled, 93.5% completed the 18-month follow-up. Bayley Mental Development Index among girls fed the high-DHA diet was higher than for girls receiving standard DHA in unadjusted and adjusted analyses (unadjusted mean difference, 4.7; 95% CI 0.5 – 8.8; adjusted mean difference, 4.5; 95% CI, 0.5 – 8.5).

The Mental Development Index among boys did not differ between groups. For infants born weighing less than 1250 g, the index in the high-DHA group was higher than with standard DHA in the unadjusted comparison (mean difference, 4.7; 95% CI, 0.2 – 9.2). But this did not reach statistical significance following adjustment for gestational age, sex, maternal education, and birth order (mean difference, 3.8; 95% CI, -0.5 to 8.0).

No Improvements Found in Boys

“The lack of responsiveness of boys to the intervention is puzzling,” the researchers write, “and the reasons are unclear.”

“We can only speculate that there are differences in the metabolism of boys and girls that we do not yet understand,” Dr. Makrides said during an interview. “The higher metabolic rate in boys may mean that they utilize much of the DHA they receive into energy. Also, boys may have a higher requirement for DHA. Clearly, this is an area of important research for the future.”

Dr. Makrides pointed to a number of limitations to the study, including the fact that the majority of women in the high-DHA group correctly guessed their group allocation. “We tried to set up a double-blind study, but in the end about 70% of women correctly guessed they were in the DHA group. This was because they had fishy burps,” she said. “This could have introduced bias.”

The researchers plan to continue following this cohort. “Should these differences persist to school age, when we next plan to follow up these children,” Dr. Makrides noted, “the potential significance to the children, the families, and the health and education system will be large.”

This study was supported by a grant from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and by Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation of South Australia. Treatment and placebo capsules were donated by Clover Corp, and infant formula was donated by Mead Johnson Nutritionals and Nutricia Australasia. Dr. Maria Makrides serves on scientific advisory boards for Nestlé, Fonterra, and Nutricia. Coauthor Dr. Robert Gibson, also from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, serves on scientific advisory boards for Wyeth, Fonterra, and Nestlé. Coauthor Dr. Karen Simmer, from King Edward Memorial Hospital and University of Western Australia, in Perth, serves on a scientific advisory board for Wyeth.

JAMA. 2009;301:175-182. Abstract


Thursday afternoon October 23, 2008

Please pass the salmon (omega 3 fatty acids). I’ll skip the omega 6s and 9s, thank you very much.


Well, I did this logic puzzle yesterday. I started by printing it out and using a pencil. The eraser wore then so I resorted to doing it online….much easier to just click in the dots and Xs. Wow! I really felt an uplifting after doing it. Great fun!!


— A note to God today…….thank you for food, for the health I have (no tremors today, I have energy, raked leaves and went food shopping with Pam), for friends, for the money you’ve provided and for freedom. Please remember the folks who are hungry, sick, poor, friendless and those who are not free. Help me to share and to serve other people in the best way I can today. Thank you, God. — Oh yea, God. I think this prayer kinda comes from something I learned as a kid. I think it might be a scripture verse in the Bible. If it is, forgive me, because I don’t read the Bible all the time.


Now to the omega fatty acids — 3 and 6. Don’t even bother with the 9s and don’t waste your money on supplements that have the 6 and 9 in them! First I suggest reading this introductory article. 

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in less foods than omega-6 fatty acids. Many people have a very low intake of omega-3s. Since omega-6 fatty acids compete with omega-3 fatty acids for use in the body, it is important to take these fatty acids in the proper ratio. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be about 2:1. Since most diets are very rich in omega-6 and low in omega-3, the ratio is often somewhere between 10:1 and 30:1. This is especially a problem with diets that are high in processed foods and oils. OIls like corn, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed are usually low in omega-3s. To balance the fatty acids out, it is important to eat a diet that is low in processed foods and with fat mainly coming from omega-3 fatty acids.

Flaxseed vs Fish oil


First, the type of omega 3’s vary in each. In flax seed oil, the omega 3’s come in the form of ALA. In fish oils, they come in the form of DHA and EPA. ALA needs to be converted by the body into DHA and EPA. This conversion does not always happen easily or smoothly for people, particularly those people with less than optimal health….which often includes elderly folk.


For this reason, many (including us here) argue that high quality fish oils are are a better source of omega 3’s than flax seed oil because you are getting DHA and EPA directly without need for conversion. Flaxseed oil and flaxseed remain wonderful nutritional agents for their own reasons. But they will not substitute for fish oil in your program. Only fish oil–the real thing–does the job.


A high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promotes the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory effects whereas omega-6 fatty acids tend to lead to inflammation. Because inflammation is at the base of many chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids plays an important role in the manifestation of disease.


Click here for a list of foods with omega 3 and 6s along with the ratios.


And click here for a great explanation of how omega fatty acids work. Greg Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and associate director of UCLA’s Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and his colleagues report that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil increases the production of LR11, a protein that is found at reduced levels in Alzheimer’s patients and which is known to destroy the protein that forms the “plaques” associated with the disease.


The plaques are deposits of a protein called beta amyloid that is thought to be toxic to neurons in the brain, leading to Alzheimer’s. Since having high levels of LR11 prevents the toxic plaques from being made, low levels in patients are believed to be a factor in causing the disease.

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