Parenteral Fish-Oil Lipid Emulsions in the Prevention of Severe Retinopathy of Prematurity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for brain and retinal maturation. It is not clear if early use of ω-3 fatty acids in the form of fish-oil lipid emulsions (FLEs) prevents retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in preterm infants. The aim of this meta-analysis is to evaluate whether early administration of parenteral FLEs reduces ROP requiring laser therapy or severe ROP ≥stage 3 in preterm infants.


A literature search was performed to identify studies comparing parenteral FLEs with soybean-based lipid emulsions (SLEs) in preventing ROP. The main outcome was incidence of severe ROP or ROP requiring laser therapy.


Studies met the inclusion criteria (four RCTs and two observational studies). The pooled relative risk of ROP requiring laser therapy or severe ROP ≥ stage 3 in FLEs group was 0.47 [95% CI: 0.24-0.90] and 0.40 [95% CI: 0.22-0.76] in RCTs and observational studies, respectively. FLEs also reduced cholestasis; however, other secondary outcomes of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), sepsis, intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), and mortality were similar.


The use of FLEs may reduce the incidence of severe ROP or need for laser therapy in preterm infants. A large multicenter RCT is required to confirm this.

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