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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2007 Jan;44(1):136-42.

Double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing effects of supplementation of two micronutrient sprinkles on fatty acid status in Cambodian infants.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Italy.



Infants in developing countries require early dietary interventions to prevent nutritional deficiencies, above all protein, energy, iron and zinc. To what extent these interventions may affect the fatty acid (FA) status is still unknown.


To examine and compare the effects of 2 micronutrient "sprinkles" supplementations (iron 12.5 mg + folic acid 150 microg, iron/folate and iron 12.5 mg + folic acid 150 microg + zinc 5 mg + vitamins A, C and D3, mineral/micronutrient [MMN]) versus placebo on the FA status of Cambodian infants.


A total of 204 infants age 6 mo and living in Kompong Chhnang Province, Cambodia, were randomly assigned to receive daily supplementation of MMN (n = 68) and iron/folate (n = 68) or placebo (n = 68) for a 12-mo period in powder form as sprinkles. At the end of the intervention period, FAs in the range of 16 to 24 C were determined in blood drops absorbed on a strip collected from 182 subjects, and values among the 3 intervention subgroups and those of 21 Italian 18-mo-old, normal-growing infants as the reference group were compared.


At the end of the supplementation trial, higher levels of the 2 essential FAs (EFAs) (linoleic acid, 18:2n-6, and alpha-linolenic acid, 18:3n-3) were found in the MMN group. No differences occurred for the major longer chain derivatives of both EFAs arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3). In MMN supplemented Cambodians, blood levels of linoleic acid approached those of Italian infants, and in addition their alpha-linolenic acid levels were improved. Cambodian infants, mostly still breast-fed through the second year of life, showed significantly higher levels of long-chain derivatives of both the n-6 and the n-3 series compared with Italians.


Supplementation with iron, folic acid, zinc and vitamins was associated with an increase of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid levels in Cambodian infants versus placebo, without significant changes in the concentrations of their longer chain derivatives, resulting in a FA status closer to Italian counterparts for the essential polyunsaturated FA levels. The iron/folate-treated infants showed no differences compared with the other 2 groups. Studies are needed to differentiate the potential effects of the supplemented micronutrients on the FA status.

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