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Randomised clinical trial of parenteral selenium supplementation in preterm infants.
  1. L. Daniels,
  2. R. Gibson,
  3. K. Simmer
  1. Department of Paediatrics, Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia, Australia.


    AIM: To determine whether selenium supplementation of parenteral nutrition with 3 micrograms/kg/day of selenious acid is safe and effective in improving the selenium status of preterm infants. METHODS: Thirty eight preterm infants with mean (SEM) birthweight of 1171 (38) g and gestational age 29 (0.3) weeks were randomly allocated to a non-supplemented (PN-selenium, n = 19) or supplemented (PN+selenium, n = 19) group. The study began at 2.8 (0.2) (range 1-5) days of age. Term breastfed (n = 23) and formula fed (n = 8) infants were used as a reference group. RESULTS: Initially there was no difference between the preterm groups in plasma or erythrocyte selenium or glutathione peroxidase activity. Plasma selenium declined by a mean (SEM) of -13.3 (3.2) micrograms/l from 28 (4) to 16 (3) micrograms/l over the first three weeks in the PN-selenium group, but there was no fall in the supplemented infants and no net change in either group over six weeks. Over six weeks, there was a net decline in erythrocyte selenium of -106 (27) ng/g haemoglobin in the PN-selenium group, but no change in the PN+selenium group, such that at week 6 erythrocyte selenium was lower in the PN-selenium group (401 (17) ng/g haemoglobin) than the PN+selenium group (493 (25) ng/g haemoglobin). Urinary selenium was substantially higher in the PN+selenium group at each week. Initially term and preterm plasma selenium concentrations were similar, but they increased in term breastfed infants (+17 (2) micrograms/l), with both groups of preterm infants having lower plasma selenium concentrations at week 6 compared with term breastfed infants (PN-selenium 22 (3) micrograms/l; PN+selenium 23 (4) micrograms/l and term breastfed 49 (2) micrograms/l). CONCLUSIONS: Selenium supplementation of PN at 3 g/kg/day prevented depletion in newborns, but was inadequate to achieve selenium concentrations equivalent to those of breastfed term infants. Whether higher doses are more effective remains to be determined, particularly in light of the high urinary selenium secretion in supplemented infants. Selenium supplementation of both parenteral nutrition and formulas is recommended, but the optimal form and dose remain unclear.

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