Vol. 5, No. 1, 1999 Page 3

Enriched formulas increase babies' IQs

Low IQ is a powerful risk factor for teen delinquency and adult criminality (see related article, Crime Times, 1996, Vol. 2, No. 2, Page 4-5) -and prematurity is a strong risk factor for low IQ. A new study indicates that a poor early diet increases the risk of reduced IQ in "preemies," and that enriched formulas can help prevent cognitive impairment.

Alan Lucas and colleagues conducted a blinded study of the effects of early nutrition on the mental development of children. The researchers randomly assigned 424 preterm infants to receive a standard infant formula or a nutrient-enriched formula speciall ly designed for preterm babies. Most of the babies received the special formula for only about one month.

When the children reached approximately eight years of age, the researchers located 360 of those who survived and tested their IQs. They report a substantial effect of diet on male children, with boys who received the standard formula scoring an average o of 12 points lower on verbal IQ scales than boys who had received the enriched formula. Forty-seven percent of the boys fed regular formula had low verbal IQ scores, vs. only 13 percent of those receiving the enriched formula. Smaller differences were see en in girls.

The researchers conclude, "Cognitive function, notably in males, may be permanently impaired by sub-optimal neonatal nutrition." Animal studies suggest, they note, that males are more vulnerable to the neurological effects of early malnutrition than are f females.

Fatty acids aid full-term infants

A new study by P. Willatts and colleagues suggests that supplementing full-term infants' formulas with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as DHA (see related article, Crime Times, 1999, Vol. 5, No. 1, Page 1&2) may improve their IQs.

Willatts et al. studied 44 full-term infants who had been randomly assigned to receive regular infant formula or formula enriched with LCPUFA for four months. When the babies reached the age of 10 months, the researchers evaluated their responses to a pro oblem-solving test involving the execution of a series of steps in order to find a hidden toy.

Infants who received the LCPUFA-enriched formula, the researchers say, succeeded at the task significantly more often than babies who received the non-enriched formula. "Since higher problem-solving scores in infancy are related to higher childhood IQ sco ores," Willatts et al. say, "supplementation with LCPUFA may be important for the development of childhood intelligence."


"Randomised trial of early diet in preterm babies and later intelligence quotient," A. Lucas, R. Morley, and T.J. Cole, British Medical Journal, Vol. 317, November 28, 1998, pp. 1481-1487. Address: Alan Lucas, Medical Research Council, Childhood Nu utrition Research Centre, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK.


"Effect of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in infant formula on problem solving at 10 months of age," P. Willatts, J. S. Forsyth, M. K. DiModugno, S. Varma, and M. Colvin, The Lancet, Vol. 352, No. 9129, August 29, 1998, pp. 688-691. Address s: P. Willatts, Department of Psychology, University of Dundee, UK.

Related Article: [1999, Vol. 1] [2000, Vol. 6]

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