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J Pediatr. 1978 Apr;92(4):603-7.

Essential fatty acid deficiency in neonates: inability to reverse deficiency by topical applications of EFA-rich oil.


Correction of essential fatty acid deficiency by transcutaneous absorption of topically applied EFA-rich oil has been reported. We measured serum EFA levels in two groups of neonates receiving fat-free total parenteral nutrition: nine control patients after 16 and 25 days of TPN, and six patients before and 12 days after beginning cutaneous application of 100 mg/kg/day of linoleic acid as sunflower seed oil. Progressive biochemical EFA deficiency occurred in all but one of the control patients. Of the six patients receiving 100 mg/kg/day of linoleic acid, one patient with mild deficiency improved, but progressive EFA deficiency occurred in the other five patients. Serum EFA levels were also measured in four patients following 76 days of TPN and daily application of high doses of topical safflower oil, all of whom had severe biochemical EFA deficiency. The topical application of EFA-rich oil cannot be assumed to be uniformly effective in reversing or preventing EFA deficiency. The transcutaneous absorption of essential fatty acids must be documented by appropriate measurements of EFA in serum lipids.

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