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Fats in Mind: Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Cognition and Behaviour in Childhood
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Fats in Mind : Effekter av omega-3 fettsyror på kognition och beteende under barndomen (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis was to examine possible effects of omega-3 fatty acids on children’s cognition and behavior. Longitudinal as well as cross-sectional comparisons were made among children with typical development and children with ADHD /at risk developing ADHD.

The specific purposes were to examine (1) breast-feeding in relation to cognition; (2) relation between long chain poly unsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in mothers breast-milk and children´s cognition; (3) effects of EPA supplementation on cognition and behavior in children with ADHD; (4) if LCPUFAs have differential effects on working memory, inhibition, problem-solving and theory of mind (ToM).

The main conclusions were as follows; (1) duration of breast-feeding was positively correlated to children levels of intelligence (IQ); (2) LCPUFAs in breast-milk was related to children’s ToM and IQ, the quotient DHA/AA, together with length of breastfeeding and gestation week explained 76% of the variance of total IQ; (3) subtypes of children with ADHD responded to EPA supplementation with significant reductions in symptoms, but there were no effects in the whole group with ADHD; (4) ToM ability was related to LCPUFAs, but not to any other cognitive measures as working memory, inhibition and problem-solving.

To conclude, these results indicate that fatty acid status in breast-milk at birth affect general cognitive function in children at 6.5 years of age, including ToM. Short-term intervention with omega-3 fatty acids does not affect cognition in children with ADHD, but improves clinical symptoms as assessed by means of teacher ratings. These results further indicate that hot executive function and social cognition may be an area of interest for future research.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med denna avhandling var att undersöka möjliga effekter av omega-3 fettsyror för barns kognition och beteende. Både kortsiktiga och långsiktiga effekter undersöktes och studierna involverade både barn med typisk utveckling och barn med ADHD.

De specifika syftena var att undersöka; (1) amning i relation till barns kognitiva utveckling; (2), relationen mellan långa fleromättade fettsyror (LCPUFA) i mammans bröstmjölk och barns kognition; (3) effekter på kognition och beteenden hos barn med ADHD av ett EPA tillskott; (4) om LCPUFA hade några differentiella effekter på arbetsminne, inhibering eller Theory of Mind (ToM).

De huvudsakliga slutsatserna var följande; (1) amningslängden var positivt korrelerad med barnens intelligenskvot (IK); (2) LCPUFA i bröstmjölken var associerad med barnens ToM och IK, kvoten DHA/AA, tillsammans med amningslängd och graviditetslängd förklarade 76% av variansen i totala IK; (3) subgrupper av barn med ADHD svarade på EPA behandlingen med signifikant reducerade symptom, men för hela gruppen med ADHD hittades inga effekter; (4) ToM var relaterat till LCPUFA, men inga andra kognitiva mått som arbetsminne, inhibering eller problemlösning.

Sammanfattningsvis indikerar dessa resultat att fettsyrestatus i bröstmjölk påverkar generell kognitiv förmåga, samt ToM, hos barn 6,5 år gamla. Korttidsintervention med omega-3 fetter påverkar inte kognition hos skolbarn med ADHD, men minskar kliniska symptom skattade i lärarskattningsskalor. Vidare indikerar resultaten att ”heta” exekutiva funktioner och social kognition kan vara av intresse för framtida forskning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2011. , 119 + studies 1-4 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 530Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 158Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 37
Keyword [en]
Cognition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Children, ADHD, Executive Functions
Keyword [sv]
kognition, omega-3 fettsyror, barn, ADHD, exekutiva funktioner
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68081ISBN: 978-91-7393-164-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-68081DiVA: diva2:416089
Public defence
2011-06-07, Key 1, Hus Key, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-05-10 Created: 2011-05-10 Last updated: 2014-10-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Nutrition and theory of mind: The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the development of theory of mind
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nutrition and theory of mind: The role of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the development of theory of mind
2006 (English)In: Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, ISSN 0952-3278, E-ISSN 1532-2823, Vol. 75, no 1, 33-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Breast-milk provides nutrients required for the development of the brain. n-6 and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) have been suggested to be particularly involved. In this study levels of fatty acids in breast-milk were examined in relation to theory of mind (ToM) (n=13) and WISC-III (n=22) in six-year-old children. ToM tasks comprised four illustrated stories with questions about emotional (sad) events. Single polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were estimated as well as ratios between different fatty acids in order to describe putative associations between PUFA and psychological measures. Results show correlations between both ToM and WISC-III with single n-6 PUFA and the ratios DHA/AA and DHA/DPA. The correlations remained when socio-demographic factors were statistically controlled for. The positive findings related to the n-6 and n-3 LCPUFAs corroborate previous findings related to child cognitive development. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-50186 (URN)10.1016/j.plefa.2006.04.001 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2011-05-10Bibliographically approved
2. Breastfeeding, very long polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and IQ at 6 1/2 years of age
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Breastfeeding, very long polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and IQ at 6 1/2 years of age
2004 (English)In: Acta Paediatrica, ISSN 0803-5253, E-ISSN 1651-2227, Vol. 93, no 10, 1280-1287 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aim: Breastfeeding seems to be favorable for cognitive development. Could levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) explain this? Methods: Pregnant mothers were recruited consecutively at maternity care centres. PUFA were analysed in colostrum and breast milk at 1 and 3 mo. The product-precursor ratios of n-6+n-3 PUFA were examined as measures of activity in respective steps in the fatty acid metabolic chain. Also, the quotient between DHA and AA was analysed. The children were tested with the full WISC-III at 6.5 y. Results: First, the influence of length of breastfeeding was analysed by multiple regression together with relevant cofactors (except for PUFA). In the best models, 46% of the variation in total IQ was explained. Length of breastfeeding contributed significantly to total IQ (beta = 0.228, p = 0.021), verbal IQ (beta = 0.204, p = 0.040) and performance IQ (beta = 0.210, p = 0.056). There were no significant single correlations between PUFA and measures of cognitive development. However, in multiple regression analysis of colostrum, significant beta-coefficients were found for steps 4+5 in the fatty acid metabolic chain (beta = 0.559, p = 0.002). If length of breastfeeding and gestation week were added to steps 4+5, this three-factor model could explain 67% of the variation of total IQ. Introducing length of breastfeeding and gestation week together with the quotient DHA/AA (beta = 0.510, p < 0.001) yielded a three-factor model, which explained 76% of the variation in total IQ. Conclusion: Our findings could be interpreted as supporting the importance of high levels of PUFA for cognitive development. However, the sample is small and the results must be interpreted with caution.

National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-22154 (URN)10.1080/08035250410033123 (DOI)1264 (Local ID)1264 (Archive number)1264 (OAI)
Available from: 2009-10-07 Created: 2009-10-07 Last updated: 2011-05-10Bibliographically approved
3. EPA supplementation improves teacher-rated behaviour and oppositional symptoms in children with ADHD
Open this publication in new window or tab >>EPA supplementation improves teacher-rated behaviour and oppositional symptoms in children with ADHD
Show others...
2010 (English)In: Acta Paediatrica, ISSN 0803-5253, E-ISSN 1651-2227, Vol. 99, no 10, 1540-1549 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aim: Measure efficacy of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Methods: Randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 0.5 g EPA or placebo (15 weeks) in 92 children (7-12 years) with ADHD. Efficacy measure was Conners Parent/Teacher Rating Scales (CPRS/CTRS). Fatty acids were analysed in serum phospholipids and red blood cell membranes (RBC) at baseline and endpoint with gas chromatography. Results: EPA improved CTRS inattention/cognitive subscale (p = 0.04), but not Conners total score. In oppositional children (n = 48), CTRS total score improved andgt;= 25% in 48% of the children receiving EPA vs. 9% for placebo [effect size (ES) 0.63, p = 0.01]. In less hyperactive/impulsive children (n = 44), andgt;= 25% improvement was seen in 36% vs. 18% (ES 0.41, n.s.), and with both these types of symptoms 8/13 with EPA vs. 1/9 for placebo improved andgt;= 25% (p = 0.03). Children responding to treatment had lower EPA concentrations (p = 0.02), higher AA/EPA (p = 0.005) and higher AA/DHA ratios (p = 0.03) in serum at baseline. Similarly, AA/EPA (p = 0.01), AA/DHA (p = 0.038) and total omega-6/omega-3 ratios (p = 0.028) were higher in RBC, probably because of higher AA (p = 0.011). Conclusion: Two ADHD subgroups (oppositional and less hyperactive/impulsive children) improved after 15-week EPA treatment. Increasing EPA and decreasing omega-6 fatty acid concentrations in phospholipids were related to clinical improvement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2010
Keyword
ADHD, Arachidonic acid, DHA, EPA, LCPUFA, RBC, serum phospholipids
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-59732 (URN)10.1111/j.1651-2227.2010.01871.x (DOI)000281556700025 ()
Available from: 2010-09-24 Created: 2010-09-24 Last updated: 2011-05-10Bibliographically approved
4. A Placebo controlled, randomized study of PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids) as treatment for neurodevelopmental problems in 7-year-old children and cognitive performance in relation to an age-matched control group
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Placebo controlled, randomized study of PUFA (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids) as treatment for neurodevelopmental problems in 7-year-old children and cognitive performance in relation to an age-matched control group
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

OBJECTIVE: The goal of the present randomized placebo controlled double-blind study was to investigate the potential effect of PUFA supplementation on cognitive and behavioural performance in children with neurodevelopmental problems at 7 years of age (n = 28) and to compare findings with an age matched healthy control group (n = 20).

METHODS: Children were screened with parent and teacher rating scales (Conner’s and SNAP-IV), and were included if they showed a range of neurodevelopmental problems that reached ADHD criteria. The group with neurodevelopmental difficulties was randomized to treatment with an EPA rich formula (n = 13) or to placebo (n = 15). Cognitive performance was determined at baseline and after 15 weeks of supplementation with a cognitive test battery including executive function and theory of mind tasks.

RESULTS: Children with neurodevelopmental problems differed from the control group regarding working memory, inhibition and language ability, but not on an advanced theory of mind task. Regarding the treatment with EPA supplement there were no significant advantages in the active treatment group compared to placebo in any of the cognitive measures or in parents or teacher rating scales.

CONCLUSION: The significant differences in cognitive performance and rating scales between the group with neurodevelopmental problems and the healthy control group at baseline indicate problems at a clinical level and suitability for treatment. However we found no significant effects of PUFA supplementation. The study is small and limited by a number of drop-outs.

National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68080 (URN)
Available from: 2011-05-10 Created: 2011-05-10 Last updated: 2011-05-10Bibliographically approved

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Birberg Thornberg, Ulrika
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