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PAS: DHA Supplementation Benefits Premature Infants

After 18 months, mental scores are higher in girls and in very low birth weight infants

TUESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- In premature infants, high-dose dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during the neonatal period improves Bayley Mental Index scores at age 18 months in girls and in those with a very low birth weight, according to research presented this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies and Asian Society for Pediatric Research Joint Meeting in Honolulu.

Maria Makrides, Ph.D., of the Children's Health Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia, and colleagues randomly assigned 657 infants born at less than 33 weeks' gestation to either high or standard DHA supplementation. Of these, 96.4 completed the 18-month follow-up.

The researchers' unadjusted analysis found no overall group differences in Bayley Mental and Psychomotor Developmental Indices (mean difference, 1.6). Compared to controls, however, they found that Bayley Mental Index scores were significantly higher among high-DHA girls (MD, 4.6) and among all high-DHA infants who weighed less than 1,250 grams at birth (MD, 4.6).

"Mothers providing breast milk consumed capsules containing 3 grams of either tuna oil (900 mg DHA) or soy oil (no DHA) that resulted in milk with either high (1 percent) or standard (0.3 percent) DHA," the authors write. "A formula with a matching high versus standard DHA concentration was used for infants requiring supplemental feeds. The intervention was from day 2-5 of life until due date."

Abstract #5127.2

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