Background: Adequate growth is an important indicator of health and well-being in infants.
Objective: Our objective was to determine the effect of supplementing infant formula with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) on the growth of term infants.
Design: Using the methodology outlined by the Cochrane Collaboration, we reviewed all known randomized controlled trials that involved LCPUFA supplementation of infant formula fed to term infants. Outcome measures were weight, length, and head circumference. Original data obtained from the investigators of published trials were used. Outcomes were analyzed with fixed-effects or random-effects model meta-analyses and were reported as weighted mean differences with 95% CIs.
Results: We identified 14 eligible trials that had data available for meta-analysis (1846 infants). Trial quality was generally high. Meta-analysis showed no significant effect of LCPUFA supplementation on infant weight, length, or head circumference at any assessment age. Similarly, subgroup analyses showed that supplementation with only n-3 LCPUFAs (no arachidonic acid) had no significant effect on infant weight, length, or head circumference. The source of LCPUFA supplementation (phospholipid or triacylglycerol) also did not significantly affect infant growth.
Conclusion: We found no evidence that LCPUFA supplementation of infant formula influences the growth of term infants in either a positive or a negative way.
- Arachidonic acid
- Docosahexaenoic acid
- Systematic review