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Randomised controlled trial of L-carnitine as a nutritional supplement in preterm infants
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Abstract

AIMS To evaluate the effect of L-carnitine supplementation (25 mg/kg/d) on the growth and incidence of hypoglycaemia in preterm infants.

METHODS A double blind, placebo controlled randomised trial, stratified for gestational age, was conducted of 86 preterm infants between 28 and 34 gestational weeks. The median gestational ages in the carnitine group and placebo groups were 30.7 weeks (range 28.0 to 33.6) and 31.4 weeks (range 28.0 to 33.9), respectively. The median birthweights were 1.557 kg (range 0.944 to 2.275) and 1.645 kg (range 0.885 to 2.545), respectively.

RESULTS Mean plasma free carnitine concentrations were below values for normal term infants in both groups on day 1 (carnitine group 44.8 μmol/l, placebo group 25.5 μmol/l) in the placebo group on day 7 (50.7 μmol/l), but in neither group on days 14 and 28. Total, free, and acylcarnitine concentrations were significantly increased in both urine and blood in the L-carnitine group. There was no significant difference between the placebo and carnitine supplemented groups in growth rate, as assessed by weight, length, skinfold thickness and head circumference measurements, or in the incidence of episodes of hypoglycaemia.

CONCLUSION The addition of carnitine as a nutritional supplement at a dose of 25mg/kg/day did not improve growth in our group of preterm infants nor protect them from episodes of hypoglycaemia.

  • plasma carnitine
  • hypoglycaemia
  • nutritional supplements
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