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Leaf Alison A.; Leighfield, Martin J.; Costeloe, Kate L.; Crawford, Michael A.
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: April 1992
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Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) composition of choline phosphoglycerides was measured in the plasma of 22 preterm infants at birth and at expected date of delivery (EDD). In a subgroup of 10 infants, data were also collected at regular intervals between birth and EDD. Levels at birth showed a positive correlation between arachidonic acid (AA) and birth weight, p<0.01, and between docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and gestational age, p<0.01. Percentage compositions of both AA and DHA fell rapidly between preterm birth and expected date of delivery, at a time when they would remain high in utero. For AA, the mean value fell from 16.52 to 7.18%, and for DHA from 4.49 to 2.63%. Levels of DHA fell less in babies fed breast milk than in those fed formula milk, p<0.05, and levels of AA fell less in those requiring a large number of blood transfusions, p<0.05. The level of DHA fell more in those infants with intrauterine growth retardation, p<0.05. Although these nutrients share common metabolic pathways for their synthesis, they appear to be affected by different factors in both the fetus and the preterm infant. Low levels at this time may adversely affect brain and retinal development.

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