Open Access Research article

Infants fed formula with added long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids have reduced incidence of respiratory illnesses and diarrhea during the first year of life

Alexandre Lapillonne1, Nitida Pastor2, Weihong Zhuang2 and Deolinda MF Scalabrin2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neonatology, APHP Necker Enfants Malades Hospital, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France

2 Department of Medical Affairs, Clinical Research, Mead Johnson Nutrition, Evansville, USA

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BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:168  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-168

Published: 2 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) may influence the immune system. Our objective was to compare the frequency of common illnesses in infants who received formula with or without added LCPUFAs.

Methods

In this observational, multi-center, prospective study, infants consumed formula with 17 mg DHA and 34 mg ARA/100 kcal (n = 233) or with no added DHA or ARA (n = 92). Pediatricians recorded respiratory illnesses, otitis media, eczema, and diarrhea through 1 year of age.

Results

Infants who consumed formula with DHA/ARA had lower incidence of bronchitis/bronchiolitis (P = 0.004), croup (P = 0.044), nasal congestion (P = 0.001), cough (P = 0.014), and diarrhea requiring medical attention (P = 0.034). The odds ratio (OR) of having at least one episode of bronchitis/bronchiolitis (0.41, 95% CI 0.24, 0.70; P = 0.001), croup (0.23, 95% CI 0.05, 0.97; P = 0.045), nasal congestion (0.37, 95% CI 0.20, 0.66; P = 0.001), cough (0.52, 95% CI 0.32, 0.86; P = 0.011), and diarrhea requiring medical attention (0.51, 95% CI 0.28, 0.92; P = 0.026) was lower in infants fed DHA/ARA. The OR of an increased number of episodes of bronchitis/bronchiolitis, croup, nasal congestion, cough, and diarrhea, as well as the hazard ratio for shorter time to first episode of bronchitis/bronchiolitis, nasal congestion, cough, and diarrhea were also significantly lower in the DHA/ARA group.

Conclusions

In healthy infants, formula with DHA/ARA was associated with lower incidence of common respiratory symptoms and illnesses, as well as diarrhea.

Keywords:
DHA; ARA; LCPUFAs; Infant; Infant formula; Infant nutrition; Respiratory illness; Diarrhea