BACKGROUND: The range of human milk docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentrations worldwide is much broader than the range explored in randomized clinical trials to date.

OBJECTIVE: The primary objective was to determine the effect of 4 amounts of DHA supplementation on the visual acuity of formula-fed infants at 12 mo of age. Secondary objectives were to evaluate visual acuity maturation, red blood cell fatty acids, tolerance, anthropometric measures, and adverse events.

DESIGN: This double-masked, randomized trial was conducted at 2 sites (Dallas and Kansas City). Three hundred forty-three healthy, term, formula-fed infants were enrolled at 1-9 d of age and were randomly assigned to be fed 1 of the following 4 infant formulas containing equivalent nutrient amounts, except for long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: control (0% DHA), 0.32% DHA, 0.64% DHA, or 0.96% DHA; DHA-supplemented formulas also provided 0.64% arachidonic acid. Visual acuity was measured by visual evoked potentials in 244 infants who completed the 12-mo primary outcome examination.

RESULTS: Infants fed control formula had significantly poorer visual evoked potential visual acuity at 12 mo of age than did infants who received any of the DHA-supplemented formulas (P < 0.001). There were no significant differences in visual evoked potential visual acuity between the 3 amounts of DHA supplementation for either site at any age tested.

CONCLUSIONS: DHA supplementation of infant formula at 0.32% of total fatty acids improves visual acuity. Higher amounts of DHA supplementation were not associated with additional improvement of visual acuity.

This trial was registered at as NCT00753818.

PMID: 20130095

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