Rapid onset of essential fatty acid deficiency in the newborn

Z. Friedman, A. Danon, M. T. Stahlman, J. A. Oates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


To study the effect of fat free alimentation on essential fatty acids (EFA), their levels in plasma phospholipids, cholesterol esters, triglycerides, and free fatty acids were measured in five sick newborns. Four patients were under 32 weeks of gestation; three were small for gestational age and one was an infant of a diabetic mother. All developed biochemical evidence of EFA deficiency during the first week of life, the smallest infant did so by the second day. Biochemical evidence of EFA deficiency included a decrease in plasma lipid arachidonic and linoleic acids, an increase in 5,8,11 eicosatrienoic acid, palmitoleic, and oleic acids and a trienoic/tetraenoic ratio of more than 0.4. Oral feeding with EFA reversed these changes. The two infants showing the most severe biochemical evidence of EFA deficiency died. Neither exchange transfusion nor multiple blood transfusions prevented or corrected the development of EFA deficiency. An alternative method for efficient and safe delivery of EFA to such infants is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-649
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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