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Pediatrics. 2011 Jul;128(1):e71-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2405. Epub 2011 Jun 27.

High-dose docosahexaenoic acid supplementation of preterm infants: respiratory and allergy outcomes.

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Department of Newborn Research, Royal Women's Hospital, 20 Flemington Rd, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.



Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been associated with downregulation of inflammatory responses.


To report the effect of DHA supplementation on long-term atopic and respiratory outcomes in preterm infants.


This study is a multicenter, randomized controlled trial comparing the outcomes for preterm infants <33 weeks' gestation who consumed expressed breast milk from mothers taking either tuna oil (high-DHA diet) or soy oil (standard-DHA) capsules. Data collected included incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and parental reporting of atopic conditions over the first 18 months of life.


Six hundred fifty-seven infants were enrolled (322 to high-DHA diet, 335 to standard), and 93.5% completed the 18-month follow-up. There was a reduction in BPD in boys (relative risk [RR]: 0.67 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.47-0.96]; P=.03) and in all infants with a birth weight of <1250 g (RR: 0.75 [95% CI: 0.57-0.98]; P=.04). There was no effect on duration of respiratory support, admission length, or home oxygen requirement. There was a reduction in reported hay fever in all infants in the high-DHA group at either 12 or 18 months (RR: 0.41 [95% CI: 0.18-0.91]; P=.03) and at either 12 or 18 months in boys (RR: 0.15 [0.03-0.64]; P=.01). There was no effect on asthma, eczema, or food allergy.


DHA supplementation for infants of <33 weeks' gestation reduced the incidence of BPD in boys and in all infants with a birth weight of <1250 g and reduced the incidence of reported hay fever in boys at either 12 or 18 months.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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