Objectives To evaluate safety and benefits of feeding preterm infants formulas containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) until 92 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA), with follow-up to 118 weeks PMA.

Study design This double-blinded study of 361 preterm infants randomized across three formula groups: (1) control, no supplementation; (2) algal-DHA (DHA from algal oil, ARA from fungal oil); and (3) fish-DHA (DHA from fish oil, ARA from fungal oil). Term infants breast-fed 4 months (n=105) were a reference group. Outcomes included growth, tolerance, adverse events, and Bayley development scores.

Results Weight of the algal-DHA group was significantly greater than the control group from 66 to 118 weeks PMA and the fish-DHA group at 118 weeks PMA but did not differ from term infants at 118 weeks PMA. The algal-DHA group was significantly longer than the control group at 48, 79, and 92 weeks PMA and the fish-DHA group at 57, 79, and 92 weeks PMA but did not differ from term infants from 79 to 118 weeks PMA. Supplemented groups had higher Bayley mental and psychomotor development scores at 118 weeks PMA than did the control group. Supplementation did not increase morbidity or adverse events.

Conclusions Feeding formulas with DHA and ARA from algal and fungal oils resulted in enhanced growth. Both supplemented formulas provided better developmental outcomes than unsupplemented formulas.