Omega-3s provide no benefits against bronchopulmonary dysplasia in very preterm infants

July 14, 2020

Consumption of DHA supplements, an omega-3 fatty acid, by breastfeeding mothers is ineffective in preventing bronchopulmonary dysplasia in preterm infants born before the 29th week of pregnancy. This is the main conclusion of a Canada-wide study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that affects half of preterm infants, causing significant breathing difficulties that can make them become dependent on ventilators and oxygen for months," explained the study's lead author, Dr. Isabelle Marc, pediatrician, professor at the Université Laval Faculty of Medicine and researcher at the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Centre. "Babies with bronchopulmonary dysplasia are at greater risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities, respiratory issues, and, in rare cases, death."

The study was conducted with the help of 461 women who had recently given birth before their 29th week of pregnancy. The participants, all of whom were breastfeeding their child, were randomly divided into two groups: one group taking a daily supplement containing 1.2 g of DHA and the other taking a placebo pill.

"By the time they reached 36 weeks of development, we found no improvement in the respiratory condition of preemies whose mother had taken DHA supplements," said Dr. Marc. "Having mothers take DHA supplements during the newborn period to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia in their very preterm infants cannot be recommended at this point," added the study's last author, Dr. Pascal Lavoie, who is a researcher at BC Children's Hospital, a neonatologist at BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre and an associate professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine. "It would be preferable for mothers to get these omega-3s by eating a balanced diet containing fish and other foods rich in omega-3s," concluded Dr. Marc.

The researchers will continue monitoring the children until they are 18 months old in order to determine whether omega-3s have positive effects on brain development in very preterm infants.
The study was conducted by 26 researchers from 16 neonatal intensive care units across Canada. Enrolment was stopped earlier than planned by the study's data and safety monitoring board due to concerns over potential negative effects of DHA on bronchopulmonary dysplasia.


Isabelle Marc, MD, PhD
Faculty of Medicine
Université Laval

Université Laval

Related Breastfeeding Articles from Brightsurf:

New guidelines say breastfeeding is safe after anaesthesia
New guidelines published by the Association of Anaesthetists in the journal Anaesthesia, to coincide with the start of World Breast Feeding Week (1-7 August) say that breastfeeding is safe after the mother has had anaesthesia, as soon as she is alert and able to feed.

New protocol on breast cancer and breastfeeding
Managing women with breast cancer who are breastfeeding is a complex issue.

Is it safe to vape while breastfeeding?
Findings from a new animal study suggest that maternal nicotine exposure during breastfeeding could be linked to problems with skull and face development.

Breastfeeding benefits during COVID-19
While the current coronavirus pandemic continues to affect all people, families will still give birth and bring new life into the world.

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Coronavirus treatment and risk to breastfeeding women
Little data is available about the ability of antiviral drugs used to treat COVID-19, coronavirus, to enter breastmilk, let alone the potential adverse effects on breastfeeding infants.

Managing cannabis use in breastfeeding women
As more states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis use and increasingly decriminalize cannabis, the risk to the growth and development of breastfeeding infants whose mothers use cannabis becomes a growing public health concern.

New recommendations released on bedsharing to promote breastfeeding
Leading experts representing The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) have released new evidence-based recommendations regarding the benefits and risks of bedsharing for mother-infant pairs who have initiated breastfeeding and are in home settings.

Apps help with breastfeeding -- at a cost
Mobile phone apps are increasingly being used to support breastfeeding decisions - sometimes at a cost, a Flinders University study indicates.

Breastfeeding disparities among us children by race/ethnicity
Overall rates of breastfeeding increased from 2009 to 2015 but they varied by race/ethnicity in this observational study that used national survey data for nearly 168,000 infants in the United States.

Read More: Breastfeeding News and Breastfeeding Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to