Zhang et al 2014 - Omega-3 LC-PUFA for Extremely Preterm Infants: A Systematic Review.
1. This systematic review did not find an association between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and decreased incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) among neonates.
2. In a subset of extremely premature infants, effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation were still non-significant, but trended towards a lower risk of BPD and necrotizing enterocolitis.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a common and significant complication of premature birth, resulting in long-term respiratory difficulties and the need for supplemental oxygen.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), including omega-3 fatty acids, have been previously implicated in inflammatory modulation. Dysregulation in the inflammatory cascade is postulated as a contributor to BPD, and research has indicated that premature infants are LCPUFA-deficient. As such, this systematic review gathered multiple studies analyzing the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on neonates.
Researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was not associated with decreased BPD in neonates overall, but may show a benefit for BPD and nectrotizing enterocolitis in extremely premature infants.
This systematic review was greatly limited by homogeneity amongst included studies, including a lack of randomized control trials directly comparing supplementation to placebo in extremely premature infants. The review however, indicated no adverse effects to supplementation, and sets up a platform for future trials of LCPUFA supplementation in neonates.