New lipid emulsions — lacking data to support usage

According to a systematic review of the literature regarding ω-3 (n-3FA) fatty acid lipid emulsions, there is a “lack of sufficient high-quality data to support the use of parenteral n-3FA lipid emulsions in children” (JPEN 2013; 37: 44-55). Thanks to Kipp Ellsworth for this reference.

The authors of this study researched 4 databases up to March 2011 and extracted relevant studies.  Five randomized controlled trials and 3 high-quality prospective cohort studies were included.  The strength of evidence was “consistently low or very low across all lipid emulsion comparisons and outcomes.”

Specific criticisms:

  • Few studies examined important outcomes like length of hospital stay or intensive care stay.
  • There was lack of data on growth, cognitive development or potential long-term effects/harms.
  • All of the studies in children varied considerably with regard to the dosing regimens, duration of administration, and duration of followup.
  • The studies were small with sample sizes ranging from 28-91 patients.
  • The 5 RCTs had unclear risk of bias due to inadequate blinding of participants and study personnel.
  • All of the RCTs were funded by the manufacturer.
  • While some biochemical outcomes improved, no difference in mortality has been identified.  A biochemical response is a poor measure of effectiveness.  In fact, several studies have shown deterioration in liver histology and fibrosis despite improved biochemical measures in infants on Omegaven.
  • For Omegaven (fish oil) treatment, all studies used a historical control group.  In these studies, typically the Omegaven dose was half the dose of Intralipid used in the control group.

This article (in its Table 1) identifies the constituents in the commercial available lipid products which include Intralipid, Clinoleic, Liposyn II, Omegaven, SMOFLipid, and Lipoplus.  Intralipid which is widely used is devoid of substantial arachidonic acid (ARA) and docosahexaenoic adic (DHA).  This is particularly important in premature infants as noted in recent blogs:

Omegaven, in particular, and SMOFLipid, to a lesser degree, have much more AA and DHA.  As such, both of these emulsions have the potential improve vision and cognitive outcome in premature infants.

Related blog posts:

7 thoughts on “New lipid emulsions — lacking data to support usage

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