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Parenteral nutrition (PN) is the intravenous feeding of a person whose gastrointestinal tract is not working. Findings presented in a recent review and meta-analysis suggest that enriching the PN solution with omega-3 fatty acids improved patient outcomes and reduced the length of hospital and ICU stays.

Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, considered essential because the human body cannot make them. Conventional lipid emulsions used in PN, including soybean and safflower oils, are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation and suppress the immune system.

The review and meta-analysis compared clinical outcomes in adult hospitalized patients administered PN enriched with omega-3 fatty acids versus non-enriched formulations. Parameters evaluated by the authors included routine lab values, markers of inflammation, rates of infection and sepsis, and the length of ICU and hospital stays.

The data revealed that infection rates decreased by 40 percent and sepsis by 56 percent in patients who received omega-3 fatty acids in their PN infusions. Moreover, the length of hospital stays and ICU stays both decreased by approximately two days.

These findings demonstrate that omega-3 fatty acid-enriched PN can decrease infection rate, sepsis, and the length of ICU and hospital stays.

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