Tuesday, September 05, 2006

food nutrition : Fish Oil Fat Could Shield IV-Dependent Infants

Doctors have long known that the prolonged feeding via IV -- otherwise known as parenteral nutrition -- can trigger serious liver damage in babies and young children.

Now, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston say IV feeding that includes a fat mixture made from fish oil could help greatly lower that risk.

The findings were published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Experts aren't sure why IV feeding boosts babies' liver risks. However, many infants who develop this complication die within a year of being diagnosed, unless they receive a liver/small intestine transplant or can be weaned off IV feeding.

In their article, the researchers reported that they saved the lives of two infants by changing the type of fat used in the IV solution. Previously, the researchers had found evidence that the fat used in standard solutions (called Intralipid) contributed to liver disease by causing fat to accumulate in the liver. Intralipid is made largely of soybean oil and is high in omega-6 fatty acids that are known to have an inflammatory effect.

In previous research with mice, the Boston Children's team had tried using another fat called Omegaven -- an IV fat mixture made from fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids prevent fat accumulation and have anti-inflammatory properties, they noted. The researchers found that IV feeding with Omegaven prevented fat accumulation and liver injury in mice.

The researchers' article detailed how the use of Omegaven in IV solutions reversed liver disease in two babies with intestinal failure.

To date, Omegaven has been used as the fat portion in the solutions of 21 young patients with intestinal failure treated at Children's Hospital Boston. Most of the patients did well, although two died from unrelated causes.

The researchers plan to conduct a formal clinical trial aimed at preventing liver disease in IV recipients.

"Using a fat emulsion consisting solely of fish oils may enable liver toxicity to be treated or prevented entirely in children and adults who are dependent on parenteral nutrition," Dr. Mark Puder, a surgeon, said in a prepared statement.

By Robert Preidt


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