Effect of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Supplementation of Preterm Infants on Growth, Body Composition, and Blood Pressure at 7-Years Corrected Age: Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial

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Aim: To determine if supplementation of infants born <33 weeks’ gestation with higher dose docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) affects growth, body composition, and blood pressure at 7 y corrected age (CA) and if treatment effects differed by infant sex at birth and birth weight strata (<1250 and ≥1250 g). Methods: Seven-year follow-up of an Australian multicenter randomized controlled trial in which 657 infants were fed high-DHA (≈1% total fatty acids) enteral feeds or standard-DHA (≈0.3% total fatty acids) from age 2–4 d until term CA. Seven-year CA outcomes were growth (weight, height), body composition (lean body mass, fat mass, waist, and hip circumference), and blood pressure. Results: There was no effect of high-DHA enteral feeds compared with standard-DHA on growth, body composition, and blood pressure at 7-year CA either overall or in subgroup analysis by sex. There was a significant interaction between high-DHA and birthweight strata on height at 7-y CA (p = 0.03). However, the post-hoc analyses by birthweight strata did not reach significance (p > 0.1). High-DHA group infants were more likely to be classified as obese (relative risk 1.6 (95% CI 1.0, 2.6); p = 0.05). Conclusions: DHA supplementation of premature infants did not affect growth, body composition, or blood pressure at 7-year CA overall by sex and birthweight strata. The finding of a higher risk of obesity in children who receive high-DHA needs to be interpreted with caution due to the small number of children classified as obese.

Original languageEnglish
Article number335
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jan 2023


  • blood pressure
  • body composition
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • growth
  • preterm infant
  • ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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