This secondary analysis characterized sleep patterns for toddlers born preterm and tested effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)+ arachidonic acid (AA) supplementation on children’s caregiver-reported sleep. Exploratory analyses tested whether child sex, birth weight, and caregiver depressive symptomatology were moderators of the treatment effect.
Omega Tots was a single-site 180-day randomized (1:1), double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Children (n = 377) were age 10 to 16 months at enrollment, born at less than 35 weeks’ gestation, assigned to 180 days of daily 200 mg DHA + 200 mg AA supplementation or placebo (400 mg corn oil), and followed after the trial ended to age 26 to 32 months. Caregivers completed a sociodemographic profile and questionnaires about their depressive symptomatology (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) and the child’s sleep (Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire). Analyses compared changes in sleep between the DHA+AA and placebo groups, controlling for baseline scores. Exploratory post hoc subgroup analyses were conducted.
Eighty-one percent (ntx = 156; nplacebo = 150) of children had 180-day trial outcome data; 68% (ntx = 134; nplacebo = 122) had postintervention outcome data. Differences in change between the DHA+AA and placebo groups after 180 days of supplementation were not statistically significant for the entire cohort. Male children (difference in nocturnal sleep change = 0.44, effect size = 0.26, P = .04; sleep problems odds ratio = 0.36, 95% confidence interval = 0.15, 0.82) and children of depressed caregivers (difference in nocturnal sleep change = 1.07, effect size = 0.65, P = .006; difference in total sleep change = 1.10, effect size = 0.50, P = .04) assigned to the treatment group showed improvements in sleep, compared to placebo.
Although there is no evidence of an overall effect of DHA+AA supplementation on child sleep, exploratory post hoc analyses identified important subgroups of children born preterm who may benefit. Future research including larger samples is warranted.
Boone KM, Rausch J, Pelak G, Li R, Turner AN, Klebanoff MA, Keim SA. Docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid supplementation and sleep in toddlers born preterm: secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(9):1197–1208.