Choline is an essential nutrient that is found in many food sources and plays a critical role in the development of the central nervous system. Animal studies have shown that choline status pre- and postnatally can have long-lasting effects on attention and memory; however, effects in human subjects have not been well studied. The aim of the present study was to examine the association between plasma concentrations of free choline and its related metabolites in children and their neurodevelopment in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study, an ongoing longitudinal study assessing the development of children born to mothers with high fish consumption during pregnancy. Plasma concentrations of free choline, betaine, dimethylglycine (DMG), methionine and homocysteine and specific measures of neurodevelopment were measured in 210 children aged 5 years. The children's plasma free choline concentration (9·17 (sd 2·09) μmol/l) was moderately, but significantly, correlated with betaine (r 0·24; P= 0·0006), DMG (r 0·15; P= 0·03), methionine (r 0·24; P= 0·0005) and homocysteine (r 0·19; P= 0·006) concentrations. Adjusted multiple linear regression revealed that betaine concentrations were positively associated with Preschool Language Scale – total language scores (β = 0·066; P= 0·04), but no other associations were evident. We found no indication that free choline concentration or its metabolites, within the normal physiological range, are associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in children at 5 years of age. As there is considerable animal evidence suggesting that choline status during development is associated with cognitive outcome, the issue deserves further study in other cohorts.
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