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DL McCulloch, CA Malcolm, C Montgomery, LT Weaver; Scotopic Retinal Sensitivity Is Associated With Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Status In The Term Infant . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):2862.
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Purpose: We aimed to investigate whether the supplementation of pregnant women with fish-oil rich in DHA enhances the development and maturation of the retina in term infants, as measured by the electroretinogram (ERG) Methods: In a double blind prospective study, 100 pregnant women were randomised to receive either fish oil (n=50) or placebo (n=50) capsules from 15 weeks gestation until delivery. Total fatty acids (%TFA) and concentrations in maternal red blood cells (RBC) and plasma were analysed at 15, 28 and 40 weeks gestation and in infants at delivery from umbilical cord blood. Full-field ERGs, included a dark-adapted blue intensity-series (n=41) and a bright white flash (2.0 log cd*s/m2, n=35), were recorded shortly after birth (1.8±1.3 days). Naka-Rushton functions were fit to the intensity-series data. Results: Maternal supplementation did not significantly alter the level of DHA in infant cord blood. There were no significant differences between infants in the maternal supplemented and placebo groups in their ERG amplitudes, peak latencies or in the parameters of their Naka-Rushton functions. However, maturity of the retina at birth was positively associated with the DHA status of the infant. DHA (%TFA) in infant cord blood was correlated with log σ, the measure of retinal sensitivity from the Naka-Rushton function (Kendal's Tau=0.26, p < 0.01). The median retinal sensitivity of infants in the highest quartile for DHA in cord blood was 2.5 times higher (+0.4 log units) compared with that of infants in the lowest quartile. Conclusion: Scotopic retinal sensitivity is mediated by the rod photoreceptors that accumulate DHA during rapid growth in the perinatal period. We have demonstrated an association between the DHA status of neonates and their retinal sensitivity. However, the maternal DHA status over a wide range is not significantly associated with infant retinal sensitivity and no direct benefit of supplementation was demonstrated.
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