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Impact of enteral protein supplementation in premature infants

Authors Barrus, Romano-Keeler J, Carr C, Segebarth K, Claxton, Walsh W, Flakoll PJ

Received 15 October 2011

Accepted for publication 1 December 2011

Published 1 June 2012 Volume 2012:2 Pages 25—31


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

David M Barrus1, Joann Romano-Keeler2, Christopher Carr3, Kira Segebarth4, Betty Claxton2, William F Walsh2, Paul J Flakoll5
1Department of Neonatology, Saint Francis Hospital–Bartlett, Memphis, TN, 2Department of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, TN, 3Department of Surgery, Naval Hospital Bremerton, Bremerton, WA, 4Pediatric and Diabetes Specialists, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC, 5Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA

Objective: The quantity of enteral protein supplementation required by premature infants to optimize growth has not been determined. This study compares the growth of premature infants fed the current standard intake of protein (3.5 g/kg/day) with the growth of those fed a higher amount (4.0 g/kg/day).
Study design: Fifty-two infants <1500 g and <33 weeks gestational age participated in a blinded, single-center, prospective randomized control trial to compare growth between two groups of different protein-intake levels. Primary outcomes were average daily weight gain (g/kg/day), head-circumference (cm/kg/week) and linear growth velocity (cm/kg/week). Secondary outcomes were serum indices of protein tolerance and plasma amino acid concentrations.
Results: Infants receiving higher amounts of protein had higher rates of growth for body weight (18.2 ± 0.7 versus 16.2 ± 1.0 g/kg/day; P < 0.05) and head circumference (0.87 ± 0.08 versus 0.62 ± 0.07 cm/kg/week; P < 0.05), with no differences in blood protein or plasma amino acid concentrations. Length of hospital stay was 14 days shorter for the higher-protein group (51.4 ± 4.0 versus 65.9 ± 6.3 days).
Conclusion: Increasing premature infant enteral protein supplementation from a calculated intake of 3.5–4.0 g/kg/day improved growth in a safe manner.

Keywords: human milk, human milk fortifier, growth, low birth weight

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