Free Radicals in Infants

Effects of the Early Nutrition on Free Radical Formation in VLBW Infants with Respiratory Distress

Erika Tomsits, MD, PhD, Katalin Rischák, and Lajos Szollár

2nd Department of Pediatrics, Department of Pathophysiology, Semmelweis University of Medicine, Budapest, Hungary

Objective: We studied the development of essential fatty acid deficiency (EFAD) and its effects together with those of vitamin E deficiency on the free radical formation of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants with respiratory distress.

Methods: Infants were divided into three groups based on the way each was supplied with daily total energy intake: (1) by fat free parenteral nutrition only or by nutrition composed of (2) less than or (3) higher than 25% of total daily energy intake given in oral feeding. We measured plasma lipid parameters and autoxidative susceptibility (AOS) of red blood cells (RBCs).

Results: Plasma concentrations of linoleic acid were low in all the groups. After at least 14 days of feeding, eicosatrienoic acid (EA) was not detected. One week after the introduction of oral feeding, the abnormal triene/tetraene ratio of the groups had decreased, but was not normalized. Vitamin E deficiency was associated with significantly increased AOS, but EFAD was not. The two factors together caused an increase of AOS, that was additive.

Conclusions: Our data confirm that EFAD increases AOS of RBCs in VLBW infants. We assume that prevention of EFAD in VLBW infants could decrease the prevalence of complications associated with free radical formation.

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