Selenium and vitamin A and E in the nutrition of very low-birth weight preterm infants
MetadataShow full item record
Deficient antioxidant defenses in preterm infants have been implicated in diseases such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, retinopathy of prematurity, necrotizing enterocolitis, periventricular leukomalacia, and intraventricular hemorrhage. The antioxidant properties of selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin E make these elements important in the nutrition of Very Low-Birth Weight (VLBW) infants. Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that prevents the production of free radicals. The decrease in plasma selenium in VLBW infants in the first month after birth makes evident that preterm infants have low selenium store and require supplementation by parenteral and enteral nutrition. A meta-analysis, with only three trials, showed that selenium supplementation did not affect mortality, and the incidence of neonatal chronic lung disease or retinopathy of prematurity, but was associated with a reduction in lateonset sepsis. Most VLBW infants and extremely Low-Birth Weight Infants (ELBW) are born with low vitamin A stores and need vitamin A supplementation by intramuscular or enteral route. Low plasma retinol concentrations increase the risk of chronic lung disease/bronchopulmonary dysplasia and long-term respiratory disabilities in preterm infants. There is evidence that vitamin A supplementation decreases the mortality or oxygen requirement at one month of age, and oxygen requirement at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age. Vitamin E blocks natural peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids from lipid layers of cell membranes. VLBW infants have a decrease in plasma concentrations in the first month after birth suggesting the need of vitamin E supplementation. A meta-analysis on vitamin E supplementation concluded that vitamin E did not affect mortality, risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and necrotizing enterocolitis but reduced the risk of intraventricular hemorrhage and increased the risk of sepsis. Serum vitamin E concentrations higher than 3.5 mg/dL are associated with a decrease in the risk of severe retinopathy of prematurity, and blindness, but also with an increase in neonatal sepsis. Caution is recommended with the supplementation of high doses of parenteral vitamin E and supplementation that increases serum levels above 3.5 mg/dL. In conclusion: although it is known that preterm infants are deficient in selenium, vitamin A and E, more studies are required to determine the best way to supplement and the impact of supplementation on neonatal outcome.