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Food Chem Toxicol. 2003 Jun;41(6):897-904.

Safety evaluation of sources of docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid for use in infant formulas in newborn piglets.

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  • 1Ross Products Division, Abbott Laboratories, 625 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215, USA.


Human milk provides small quantities of preformed docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), usually less than 1% of total fatty acids. Vegetable oil blends commonly used in infant formulas have, until recently, provided the essential fatty acid precursors for these long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), but no preformed DHA and ARA. This study evaluated the safety of ingredient sources of DHA and ARA for use in infant formulas in a neonatal piglet model. Newborn piglets were allowed to suckle for 3 days and then divided into 4 feeding groups of 6 males and 6 females. Piglets were bottle-fed at frequent feeding intervals until 19 days of age. The composition of the piglet formulas was modeled after standard milk-based formulas for human infants while meeting nutritional requirements for piglets. Formulas were a control formula (no added DHA or ARA), a DHA formula providing 55 mg DHA/100 Cal, an ARA formula providing 96 mg/100 Cal ARA, and a DHA+ARA formula providing 34 mg DHA and 62 mg ARA/100 Cal. All formulas were equal in fat content and provided approximately 1000 Cal/l. The ARA-rich oil was from a fermentation product of Mortierella alpina (40 wt.% fatty acids as ARA) and DHA was from high DHA tuna oil (25 wt.% fatty acids as DHA). There were no test article related effects of DHA and/or ARA indicative of an adverse health consequence to the animals seen in the clinical signs, body weights, food consumption, clinical chemistry, hematology, organ weights or gross or histopathology. The findings in this neonatal animal study support the safety of these ingredient oil sources of DHA and ARA for use in infant formulas.

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