Dietary long-chain fatty acids and visual response in malnourished nursing infants.Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2000 Dec; 63(6):385-90.PL
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) derived from essential fatty acids (EFAs) play an important role in prenatal visual and neural development. Protein-energy malnutrition affects PUFA supply, and hence the synthesis of structural lipids during growth. Recently, some physiological studies reported abnormalities in the visual function of formula-fed infants relative to breast-fed infants. The purpose of our study was to assess whether fatty acid composition of the malnourished infant diet modifies the visual function and erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acid composition. Three groups of full-term malnourished infants were selected. Two groups received commercial formulas. One of them supplied linoleic and alpha -linolenic acid: Formula I (FI), and the other supplied, in addition, long-chain PUFAs from n-3 and n-6 series: Formula II (FII). A reference group of breast-fed infants was also enrolled. Visual function was assessed using full-field flash electroretinography, and the erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acid composition was determined by gas-liquid chromatography. Those infants receiving the supplemented formula (FII) exhibited a similar retinal function to that of breast-fed infants. However, normal results were not achieved when infants were fed on the FI formula. In all groups, the results were correlated with the proportion of docosahexaenoic acid in erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acid composition. We conclude that in malnourished infants a nutrient formula enriched with long-chain fatty acids of n-6 and n-3 series could be helpful to achieve an erythrocyte fatty acid pattern and a visual function similar to that obtained in breast-fed infants.