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Pediatr Res. 1990 Nov;28(5):485-92.

Effect of dietary omega-3 fatty acids on retinal function of very-low-birth-weight neonates.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-9063.


Retinal function was assessed by electroretinogram in 32 neonates randomly assigned to formulas of different omega-3 fatty acid content and in 10 infants fed human milk. All neonates had a birth weight of 1000-1500 g and were fed study diets from d 10 to 45 or discharge. Group A received formula containing predominantly 18:2 omega-6. Group B received a balanced mix of 18:2 omega-6 and 18:3 omega-3. Group C was given a formula containing both essential fatty acids and supplemented with marine oil to provide 22:6 omega-3 content similar to that of human milk. The fatty acid composition of plasma and red blood cell (RBC) lipids were similar for all groups on entry but marked diet-induced differences were found after feeding the study diets. Group C was comparable to the human milk-fed group, but group A had lower 22:6 omega-3 and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) in plasma and RBC membranes. Cone function was not affected by dietary essential fatty acids. Rod electroretinogram thresholds were significantly higher for group A relative to the human milk-fed group and group C and significantly correlated with RBC omega-3 LCPUFA (r = -0.63, p less than 0.0001); 44% of the variance could be explained by RBC and plasma omega-3 LCPUFA content.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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