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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jun;57(6):727-34.

Preterm infant formula supplementation with alpha linolenic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biochimie A, EA Nutrition Humaine et Athérogenèse, UMI, Institut de Biologie, Boulevard Henri IV, 34060 Montpellier, France.



To investigate if supplementation of preterm infant formula with a high docosahexaenoic acid/eicosapentaenoic acid (DHA/EPA) ratio together with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) was able to maintain plasma and red blood cell DHA levels similar to that obtained with breast milk feeding without altering n-6 fatty acid status.


Preterm infants of mothers who elected not to breast feed (n=13) were assigned to ALA- and DHA-enriched formula (DHA group: DHA/EPA=5/l). Infants fed breast milk (n=25) constituted a reference group (BM group). Anthropometric and fatty acid parameters (plasma phospholipids, cholesterol esters, triglycerides and red blood cell phosphatidylethanolamine, PL, CE, TG, RBC-PE, respectively) were obtained after 2 days (D2) and 15 days (D15) of enteral feeding and at the 37th week (W37) of post-conception age and 1 month later (W37+30) in the DHA group. Mean DHA intake ranged between 16.5+/-1.6 and 17.9+/-2.9 mg/kg/day between D2 and W37+30.


At W37, infant weights, heights, and head circumferences were similar in DHA and BM groups. PL DHA was maintained in the DHA group at the same level as in the BM group and the same for DHA in PE at W37. In RBC-PE and at W37, AA status was the same in both groups. In PL, AA levels remained very stable throughout the study; however, in the DHA group AA levels in PL remained in the range observed with standard formulas.


The combined 18:3 n-3 and DHA supplementation of infant formula with DHA/EPA ratio 5/l is compatible with growth and n-3 fatty acid metabolism similar to that of preterm infants fed human milk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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