Formula Supplemented with Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (ARA): A Critical Review of the Research


  • Kristen Wright,

  • Catherine Coverston,

  • Mary Tiedeman,

  • Jo Ann Abegglen

  • Kristen Wright, MSN, FNP, is a Family Nurse Practitioner; Catherine Coverston, PhD, RNC, is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs; Mary Tiedeman, PhD, RN, is an Associate Professor; and Jo Ann Abegglen, MS, PNP, APRN, is an Associate Teaching Professor, Brigham Young University–Nursing, Provo, UT.

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PURPOSE. To summarize results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating growth, cognitive, neurological, and visual development of term infants supplemented with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA).

DESIGN AND METHODS. The Boyack and Lookinland Methodological Quality Index (MQI) was used to evaluate data from RCTs identified from multiple data bases.

RESULTS. Six of ten studies found the addition of DHA and ARA to have no significant effect on infant development.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS. More expensive formula with endogenous DHA and ARA is not necessary. Results from longer studies currently underway will be beneficial.