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Effect of Maternal Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation on Very Preterm Infant Growth: Secondary Outcome of a Randomized Clinical Trial

Introduction: The aim of the study was to determine the effect of a maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation during lactation, compared with a placebo, on the neonatal growth profile of breastfed very preterm infants.

Methods: Preterm infants' growth profile, growth velocity from birth to 36 weeks' postmenstrual age (PMA), and growth at 36 weeks' PMA were pre-specified secondary outcomes of a randomized placebo-controlled trial conducted in 16 Canadian neonatal intensive care units (2015-2018). Lactating mothers who delivered before 29 weeks' gestation were given 1.2 g of DHA daily or a placebo within 72 h of delivery and up to 36 weeks' PMA. Analyses were performed using a linear regression model with generalized estimating equations.

Results: 461 mothers and their 528 infants (DHA, N = 273; placebo, N = 255) were included with mean gestational age of 26.5 weeks (standard deviation [SD] = 1.6); 275 (52.1%) were males; mean birth weight was 895 g (SD = 240). DHA interaction with sex was significant on weight profile (interaction p < 0.001), weight velocity (interaction p = 0.05), and weight at 36 weeks' PMA (interaction p = 0.02). Females in the DHA group gained more weight compared to the placebo group (mean difference [MD], 52.6 g [95% confidence interval [CI]: 24.5-80.8], p < 0.001). Weight velocity was significantly higher in females of the DHA group (MD, 3.4 g/kg/day [95% CI: 0.6-6.2], p = 0.02). At 36 weeks' PMA, the weight of males in the DHA group was significantly smaller (MD, -88.9 g [95% CI: -166.2 to -11.6], p = 0.02).

Conclusion: DHA positively affected female infants' neonatal weight profile and velocity and negatively affected male infants' weight at 36 weeks' PMA.

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