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Improving Heart Rate Variability in Children with Short Stature by Supplementing Omega-3-Fatty Acids

Introduction: Short stature and/or low birth weight are associated with an enhanced cardiovascular mortality. Autonomic imbalance measured by reduced heart rate variability (HRV) is an important surrogate parameter for cardiovascular risk stratification. We recently showed reduced 24 hour HRV in some children with a height below the third percentile. We sought to determine if supplementation of omega-3-fatty acids improves HRV in these children. Methods: We measured the 24 h HRV in 20 children with short stature, 11 of which were also undergoing treatment with recombinant growth hormone and mean age of 7.4 ± 4.5 years, before and after an average of 232 days on daily supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids. Results: Compared to 85 healthy control children, the baseline HRV was significantly reduced and the mean heart rate was significantly enhanced in children with short stature. After supplementation of omega-3-fatty acids, the mean HRV significantly increased as indicated by nearly all time and frequency domain parameters. Mean heart rate decreased from 100.4 ± 12.4 bpm to 96.2 ± 12.3 bpm (p=0 .0009). The cause of heart rate reduction was the result of an enhanced vagus activity indicated by significantly higher rMSSD, pNN50 and high frequency power. However, global HRV remained reduced despite the HRV improvement (SDNN: 106.3 ± 29.7 ms to 114.1 ± 34.8 ms; not significant). Conclusion: Our study showed an improvement in HRV after omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in children with short stature due to intrauterine growth retardation, growth hormone deficiency, congenitalsyndromes and heart defects. Thus, we propose omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for children with short stature who have significantly reduced 24 hour HRV in an effort to improve their cardiovascular prognosis

Author(s): Buchhorn R , Willaschek C and Norozi K

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