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Pediatr Res. 2005 May;57(5 Pt 1):712-8. Epub 2005 Feb 17.

Body composition in preterm infants who are fed long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: a prospective, randomized, controlled trial.

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Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44109, USA.


The objective of this study was to evaluate growth and body composition of premature infants who were fed formulas with arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n6) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n3) to 1 y of gestation-corrected age (CA). Preterm infants (750-1800 g birth weight and <33 wk gestational age) were assigned within 72 h of first enteral feeding to one of three formulas: control (n = 22), DHA+ARA from fish/fungal oil [DHA+ARA(FF); n = 20], or DHA+ARA from egg/fish oil [DHA+ARA(EF); n = 18]. Human milk feeding was allowed on the basis of the mother's choice. Infants were fed breast milk and/or preterm formulas with or without 0.26% DHA and 0.42% ARA to term CA followed by breast milk or postdischarge preterm formulas with or without 0.16% DHA and 0.42% ARA to 12 mo CA. Body composition was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. There were no significant differences among the three study groups at any time point in weight, length, or head circumference. Bone mineral content and bone mineral density did not differ among groups. At 12 mo CA, infants who were fed DHA+ARA-supplemented formulas had significantly greater lean body mass (p < 0.05) and significantly less fat mass (p < 0.05) than infants who were fed the unsupplemented control formula. The DHA+ARA-supplemented formulas supported normal growth and bone mineralization in premature infants who were born at <33 wk gestation. Preterm formulas that had DHA+ARA at the levels and ratios in this study and were fed to 1 y CA led to increased lean body mass and reduced fat mass by 1 y of age.

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