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C. Williams, E.E. Birch, I. Rogers, K. Northstone, P.M. Emmett, The ALSPAC Study Team; Associations Between Nutrition in Early Life and Visual Development – 12–Year Follow Up Data From a UK Cohort Study . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):3158.
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Breast–feeding and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake are thought to affect early visual development. There are few data regarding later visual function with respect to early nutrition. We report follow–up data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children(ALSPAC).
Children in the cohort were invited to a visual assessment at 7 years and again at 12 years. At the 7–year examination, orthoptists assessed the children with the Randot stereotest, ETDRS vision charts and a cover test. At the 12–year examination the Randot was used again, and a new stereotest, adapted from a preschool one ("Preschool Plus"). Prospectively collected data on early nutrition and potential confounders were taken from the ALSPAC database.
Data were available for 7457 children at 7 years and 1752 at 12 years. In preliminary multivariable analysis being breast–fed (p = 0.014) and having a mother who ate oily fish during pregnancy (p = 0.018) were associated with improved best–eye visual acuity at 7, after accounting for several confounders. Higher maternal oily fish intake was associated with better stereopsis at 7 and again at 12 using the "Preschool Plus" test (p = 0.013 and p = 0.045 respectively). Breast–feeding was associated with better stereopsis at 12, with the "Preschool Plus" (p = 0.01)
The "Preschool Plus" test may be a useful and sensitive test of stereopsis. In this cohort, early nutritional exposures had associations with visual function lasting almost until puberty. Further study is needed to clarify the mechanisms and further consequences.
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