Respiratory hospitalisation of infants supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid as preterm neonates

Kerryn Atwell, Carmel Collins, Thomas Sullivan, Philip Ryan, Robert Gibson, Maria Makrides, Andrew McPhee

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim: To determine the effect of neonatal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in preterm infants on later respiratory-related hospitalisations. Methods We enrolled 657 infants in a multicentre, randomised, controlled trial designed to study the long-term efficacy of higher dose dietary DHA in infants born <33 weeks' gestation. Treatment was with high DHA (∼1%) compared with standard DHA (∼0.3%) in breast milk or formula, given from the first week of life to term equivalent. Parent-reported hospital admissions to 18 months corrected age were recorded. The proportion of children hospitalised for lower respiratory tract (LRT) conditions and the mean number of hospitalisations per infant were determined. Results: Twenty-three per cent (154/657) of infants were hospitalised for LRT conditions. Seventy-three per cent (173/238) of admissions were for bronchiolitis. There was no significant effect of higher DHA on the proportion of infants admitted for LRT conditions (high DHA 22% vs. standard DHA 25%, adjusted relative risk 0.92, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68-1.24, P = 0.57) or in the mean number of admissions per infant (high DHA 0.34, standard DHA 0.38, adjusted ratio of means 0.91, 95% CI 0.63-1.32, P = 0.62). The sexes responded differently to treatment (interaction P = 0.046), with reduced admissions in boys given high DHA, but this was not statistically significant (high DHA 19%, standard DHA 28%, adjusted relative risk 0.69, 95% CI 0.46-1.04, P = 0.08). Conclusions: Hospitalisation for LRT problems in the first 18 months for preterm infants was not reduced by neonatal supplementation with 1% DHA.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e17-e22
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    • hospitalisation
    • omega-3 fatty acids
    • premature infant
    • respiratory tract diseases


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