British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Choline status and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 5 years of age in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study

J. J. Straina1 c1, Emeir M. McSorleya1, Edwin van Wijngaardena2, Roni W. Kobroslya2, Maxine P. Bonhama3, Maria S. Mulherna1, Alison J. McAfeea1, Philip W. Davidsona2, Conrad F. Shamlayea4, Juliette Hendersona4, Gene E. Watsona2, Sally W. Thurstona2, Julie M. W. Wallacea1, Per M. Uelanda5 and Gary J. Myersa2

a1 Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, BT52 1SA, UK

a2 School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA

a3 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

a4 Child Development Centre, Ministry of Health, Mahé, Republic of Seychelles

a5 Section for Pharmacology, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, Haukeland University Hospital, Norway


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.

(Received August 06 2012)

(Revised October 16 2012)

(Accepted October 16 2012)

(Online publication January 09 2013)

Key Words:

  • Choline;
  • Neurodevelopment;
  • Children


c1 Corresponding author: Professor J. J. Strain, fax +44 28 7012 3023, email


  Abbreviations: ACh, acetylcholine; DMG, dimethylglycine; PLS, Preschool Language Scale; tHcy, total homocysteine