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Vitamin A provision for preterm infants: are we meeting current guidelines?
  1. H Mactier1,
  2. M M Mokaya2,
  3. L Farrell3,
  4. C A Edwards2
  1. 1Neonatal Unit, Princess Royal Maternity, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Human Nutrition Section, Division of Developmental Medicine, Glasgow University, Yorkhill Hospitals, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK
  3. 3Department of Vision Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to H Mactier, Neonatal Unit, Princess Royal Maternity, 8–16 Alexandra Parade, Glasgow G31 2ER, UK; helen.mactier{at}


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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  • Funding Lesley Farrell was supported by the Chief Scientist Office (Scotland): grant CZB/4/316.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.