British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Influence of feeding artificial-formula milks containing docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids on the postnatal long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid status of healthy preterm infants

Magritha M. H. P. Foreman-Van Drongelena1, Adriana C. Van Houwelingena1*, Arnold D. M. Kestera2, Carlos E. Blancoa3, Tom H. M. Hasaarta4 and Gerard Hornstraa1

a1 Department of Human Biology, University of Limburg, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Methodology and Statistics, University of Limburg, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht, The Netherlands

a3 Department of Neonatology, University Hospital Maastricht, P Debyelaan 25, 6229 MX Maastricht, The Netherlands

a4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital Maastricht, P Debyelaan 25, 6229 MX Maastricht, The Netherlands

Abstract

In view of the importance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) for growth and development of fetal and infant neural tissue, the influence of the dietary n-3 and n-6 LCP intake onthe LCP status of forty-three preterm infants (birth weight<1800 g) was studied. Thirty-one formula-fed infants were randomly assigned to receive a conventional formula lacking LCP (n 16), or an 22:6n-3-and 20:4n-6-enriched formula (n 15); twelve infants received their own mother's breast milk. Fatty acid compositions of plasma and erythrocyte (RBC) phospholipids (PL) were determined in umbilical venous blood, in weekly postnatal samples until day 35 of life and, for the formula-fed infants, at 3 months of corrected age. Both in plasma (P < 0·001) and RBC (P < 0.01) PLY, the changes with time until day 35 for 22: 6n-3 and 20:4n-6 in the two groups of formula-fed infants were significantly different, with higher values, comparable with those of human-milk-fed infants, in the LCP-enriched-formula group. At 3 months of corrected age, differences between the two formula-fed groups were even more pronounced. In conclusion, adding 22: 6n-3 and 20:4n-6 to artificial formulas in balanced ratios and in amounts similar to those found in preterm human milk raises both the 22:6n-3 and the 20:4n-6 status of formula-fed preterm infants to values found for human-milk-fed preterm infants. Additional studies are necessary to evaluate the potentially favourable effects of this combined addition on the neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm infants.

(Received October 16 1995)

(Revised February 14 1996)

(Accepted March 04 1996)

Footnotes

* For reprints.

0Comments