Preterm infants may benefit from fatty acids

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Related tags: Nutrition, Omega-6 fatty acid, Fatty acid

Feeding formulas containing fatty acids such as docosahexanoic acid
(DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) may improve the development of
preterm infants.

Research carried out by Dr. Deborah Diersen-Schade, from Mead Johnson Nutritionals in Evansville, Indiana, and colleagues, investigated the safety and benefits of feeding preterm infants formulas with added DHA and ARA.

The team looked at over 350 preterm infants during the double-blinded study. They were split into three groups: the first received no supplementation; the second, algal-DHA (DHA from algal oil, ARA from fungal oil); and the third fish-DHA (DHA from fish oil, ARA from fungal oil).

They found that at 118 weeks since the mothers last menstrual period before pregnancy, the infants on the algal-DHA formula had a significantly greater weight gain than those on regular formula or infants in the fish-DHA formula group.

Indeed, the weight of the algal-DHA group was comparable to that of term infants.

Infants in both supplemented formula groups scored higher on standard mental and movement-coordination tests than did those in the regular formula group.

The researchers therefore concluded in the Journal of Pediatrics (April 2005) that feeding formulas with DHA and ARA from algal and fungal oils resulted in enhanced growth, with both supplemented formulas providing better developmental outcomes than unsupplemented formulas.

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