Research results for - Vitamin D Status of Preterm Infants at 4 Months Post Hospital Discharge

Abstract

Preterm birth and survival rates are increasing in New Zealand and around the world. Vitamin D is one nutrient that accumulated in the final stages of gestation and so subject to shorter gestational lengths, pre term babies subsequently suffer from decreased nutrient quantity in utero.

The aim of this study was to investigate the vitamin D status of preterm infants at 4 months post hospital discharge, and describe the factors affecting these concentrations.

An observational study of 49 preterm infants (<37 weeks gestation) at 4 months post hospital discharge was undertaken. Questionnaires were used to assess sun exposure behaviours and feeding and supplement use.

Conclusions

We can conclude that preterm infants who are exclusively breastfed and do not receive Vitadol C supplements are at risk of vitamin D deficiency after hospital discharge. All of the infants in this cohort who were exclusively breastfed and did not receive Vitadol C (n=14) were vitamin D insufficient at 4 months after hospital discharge. 

All infants who received either infant formula or Vitadol C supplements in addition to infant formula or breast milk were vitamin D sufficient. We conclude that a vitamin D supplement is essential for all exclusively breastfed preterm infants after hospital discharge to prevent deficiency.

Furthermore, that post discharge vitamin D supplements may be important for formula fed infants to reach higher levels of sufficiency. However, due to the number of infants (18.4%, n=9) who had vitamin D levels above the upper level deemed safe, caution with Vitadol C supplement use and dose is warranted.

Furthermore, we conclude that sun exposure is minimal in preterm infants after hospital discharge and therefore nutritional vitamin D intake takes precedence over sun exposure in this group. Sun exposure should not be relied on as a viable source of vitamin D for preterm infants after hospital discharge.

 

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