Neurodevelopmental outcome of nutritional intervention in newborn infants at risk of neurodevelopmental impairment: the Dolphin neonatal double-blind randomized controlled trial

Morag J Andrew, Jeremy R Parr, Christine Montague-Johnson, Karen Laler, Jane Holmes, Bonny Baker, Peter B Sullivan
Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 2018, 60 (9): 897-905

AIM: To investigate whether neonates at risk for neurodevelopmental impairment have improved neurodevelopment after docosahexaenoic acid, choline, and uridine-5-monophosphate supplementation versus controls.

METHOD: Recruitment was from UK neonatal units. Eligible for inclusion were infants born at less than 31 weeks' gestation with a weight less than the ninth centile; infants born at less than 31 weeks' gestation with a grade II or higher intraventricular haemorrhage/preterm white matter injury; infants born between 31 weeks' and 40 weeks' gestation plus 28 days with a grade II or higher intraventricular haemorrhage/preterm white matter injury, moderate or severe hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, or defined neuroimaging abnormalities. Treatment/control supplementation was for 2 years (double-blind, randomized, controlled design). Infants were stratified according to sex, gestation, and brain injury severity. Primary outcome was cognitive composite score (CCS) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Third Edition (Bayley-III at 24mo). Secondary outcomes were language composite score (LCS) of the Bayley-III, motor composite score (MCS) of the Bayley-III, and Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales, Second Edition (VABS-II) score.

RESULTS: Sixty-two neonates were recruited, 59 were randomized (34 males, 25 females). Fifty-three started supplementation. Most families found supplementation acceptable. The treatment group CCS-Bayley-III scores were non-significantly higher than controls (mean score difference at 24mo: 9.0; 95% confidence interval -0.2 to 18.2). Language and VABS-II scores, but not motor score, were non-significantly higher in the treatment group.

INTERPRETATION: Most families found supplementation feasible. Improved neurodevelopmental outcomes in the treatment group were not statistically significant. A larger multicentre trial exploration is warranted.

WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Dietary supplementation of neonates at risk of neurodevelopmental impairment is feasible. No statistically significant neurodevelopmental advantages were identified for the treatment group compared to controls. Treatment group cognitive and language advantage are of a clinically meaningful magnitude.

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