Longchain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in infants born at term

Simmer K, Patole S, Rao SC

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000376. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000376.pub2.

Background: The n-3 and n-6 fatty acids linolenic acid and linoleic acid are precursors of the n-3 and n-6 long chain fatty acids (LCPUFA). Infant formula has historically only contained the precursor fatty acids. Controversy exists over whether LCPUFA are also essential nutrients in infancy. Over the last few years, some manufacturers have added LCPUFA to formulae and marketed them as providing an advantage for the development of term infants.

Objectives: To assess whether supplementation of formula with LCPUFA is safe and of benefit to term infants.

Authors’ conclusions: The results of most of the well conducted RCTS have not shown beneficial effects of LCPUFA supplementation of formula milk on the physical, visual and neurodevelopmental outcomes of infants born at term. Only one group of researchers have shown some beneficial effects on VEP acuity. Two groups of researchers have shown some beneficial effect on mental development. Routine supplementation of milk formula with LCPUFA to improve the physical, neurodevelopmental or visual outcomes of infants born at term can not be recommended based on the current evidence. Further research is needed to see if the beneficial effects demonstrated by Dallas 2005 trial of Birch et al can be replicated in different settings.

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