Animal and epidemiologic studies indicate that early nutrition has lasting effects on metabolism and cardiovascular disease risk.

In adults, (n-3) long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) from fish oils improve blood pressure, the lipid profile, and possibly cardiovascular disease mortality.

This randomized trial is the first to investigate the effects of fish oil on blood pressure and the lipid profile in infancy. Healthy term 9-mo old infants (n = 83) were randomly assigned to 5 mL fish oil daily or no fish oil for 3 mo and to 2 different milk types.

Before and after the intervention, blood pressure was measured with an oscillometric device, and blood was sampled for analysis of erythrocyte fatty acid composition and the plasma lipid profile. This paper examines the effects of the fish oil supplement, with adjustment for the effects of the milk intervention when relevant.

The fish oil intervention increased erythrocyte (n-3) LCPUFA content (P < 0.001). At 12 mo, infants administered fish oil had a lower systolic blood pressure [adjusted mean difference (95% CI)] 6.3 mm Hg (0.9, 11.7) (P = 0.02), a 0.51 mmol/L (0.07, 0.95) higher plasma total cholesterol (P = 0.02), and a 0.52 mmol/L (0.02,1.01) higher LDL cholesterol (P = 0.04) than infants not administered fish oil.

Plasma triacylglycerol was inversely associated with the erythrocyte content of eicosapentaenoic acid (r = 0.34, P < 0.01), a biomarker of fish oil dose.

The observed effects of fish oil are in accordance with findings in adults. The long-term health implications warrant further investigation.