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Pediatrics. 2001 Aug;108(2):372-81.

Growth and development in term infants fed long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: a double-masked, randomized, parallel, prospective, multivariate study.

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  • 1Ross Products Division, Abbott Labs, Columbus, Ohio 43215, USA.



To evaluate the effects of dietary intake of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, arachidonic acid (AA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on multiple indices of infant growth and development.


A double-masked, randomized, parallel trial was conducted with term infants fed formulas with or without AA+DHA for 1 year (N = 239). Reference groups of breastfed infants (N = 165) weaned to formulas with and without AA+DHA were also studied. Infants in the formula groups were randomized at </=9 days of age to a control formula with no AA or DHA (n = 77) or 1 of 2 otherwise identical formulas containing AA+DHA (AA, 0.46% and DHA, 0.14% of total fatty acids) from either egg-derived triglyceride (egg-DTG [n=80]) or fish oil and fungal oil (fish/fungal [n = 82]) at levels similar to the average in breast milk samples as measured in the reference group. All formulas contained 50% of energy from fat with the essential dietary fatty acids, linoleic acid (20% fatty acids) and alpha-linolenic acid (2% fatty acids). The main study outcomes were AA and DHA levels in plasma and red blood cells, and multiple measures of infant development at multiple ages from birth to 14 months: growth, visual acuity, information processing, general development, language, and temperament.


AA and DHA levels in plasma and red cells were higher in AA+DHA-supplemented groups than in the control formula group and comparable to those in reference groups. No developmental test results distinguished these groups. Expected differences in family demographics associated with breastfeeding were found, but no advantages to breastfeeding on any of the developmental outcome demonstrated.


These findings do not support adding AA+DHA to formulas containing 10% energy as linoleic acid and 1% energy as alpha-linolenic acid to enhance growth, visual acuity, information processing, general development, language, or temperament in healthy, term infants during the first 14 months after birth.infant development, breast feeding, infant formula, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid.

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