The swift physical and neurological development during this period of childhood may mean that variations in PUFA intake could have important implications for growth, she adds.
"This work could help inform dietary recommendations for children, and may be particularly important for the preterm population," Dr. Keim says. "We are currently carrying out a clinical trial to see if DHA supplementation when children are 1 year of age can help cognitive development in those born preterm."
At present, there is no official dietary recommendation in the U.S. for DHA and EPA intake or supplementation among children, although the Institute of Medicine has issued what they call a "reasonable intake" level of two 3-oz servings of fish per week for children. "According to our research, however, children are clearly not consuming this much fish," says Dr. Keim. In addition, the researchers found that overall intake of key fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA, among U.S. children is only a fraction of what is regularly consumed by young children in certain other countries, including Canada. Other studies suggest that similarly low intakes exist in kids age 5 and older. By incorporating key omega-3 PUFAs into a child's diet at a very early age, Dr. Keim says, it may be more likely to become part of a lifelong diet.
Dr. Keim hopes her work will contribute to a more detailed understanding of the diets of young children in the U.S. and will motivate health professionals to start considering the specific nutritional needs of children for healthy growth and development. "We'd like to continue our work examining dietary patterns in very young children, since they are often excluded from dietary studies," she says.
Ideally, Dr. Keim says she would like
|Contact: Gina Bericchia|
Nationwide Children's Hospital