Vitamin A provision for preterm infants: Are we meeting current guidelines?
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Background: Preterm infants have reduced liver stores of vitamin A at birth compared to term born infants. Current guidelines recommend an intake of 700-1500 IU/kg/day vitamin A, and there is evidence to support higher doses for infants with significant lung disease. The importance of appropriate early nutrition for preterm infants is increasingly becoming apparent. Objectives: To examine whether preterm infants admitted to a UK neonatal unit received the currently recommended amounts of vitamin A during the first 4 weeks of life, and to identify the feeding patterns associated with optimal vitamin A intake. Design: Retrospective case note review. Setting: UK tertiary neonatal unit. Population: 36 preterm infants with a median gestation of 30 weeks (range 26-33 weeks) and median birth weight of 1305 g (range 880-1800 g). Main outcome measure: Mean daily total intake of vitamin A in each of the first 4 weeks of life. Results: Despite a policy of introducing intravenous lipid supplemented with fat soluble vitamins on day 2, only four infants (11%) consistently met the recommended daily intake of vitamin A during the first 2 weeks of life. Adequacy of vitamin A intake in the first 2 weeks of life was not predicted by gestation or pattern of feeding. Conclusion: Recommendations for intravenous vitamin A supplementation in parenterally fed preterm infants require revision. Intravenous lipid with added fat soluble vitamins should be started as soon as possible after birth, and consideration given to early oral vitamin A supplementation in those infants tolerant of enteral feeds.
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