The N3RO Trial

Follow up of the N3RO Trial: Efficacy and safety of omega-3 DHA supplementation in preterm infants
The N3RO Trial
Project Status: Completed
Project administered by: The University of Adelaide

Giving omega-3 DHA to babies who are born 3-to-4 months prematurely has been thought to help their brain development.

Preterm children are more likely to have lower IQ scores, cognitive impairments, and behavioural problems compared with term-born children. Infants born at the earliest gestations are deprived of the natural supply of the omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that normally builds up in the brain during the last trimester of pregnancy.

In this study, the team investigated the effects of restoring the supply of DHA to these infants in the first months of life. The N3RO Trial followed infants born before 29 weeks gestation, who were given 60mg of DHA/kg per day via enteral or control tube feeding. They were compared with children in the control group, who received an emulsion with no DHA. At five years old, children in both groups underwent the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) IQ test and parents completed a survey about their behaviour and health.

On average, those in the DHA group scored 3.5 points higher on the IQ scale than those in the control group.

These very promising results suggest DHA has the potential to improve cognitive performance when administered via emulsion for infants born before 29 weeks gestation.

This project was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council