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Preterm nutritional intake and MRI phenotype at term age: a prospective observational study

Vasu, V., Durighel, G., Thomas, L. , Malamateniou, C., Bell, J. D., Rutherford, M. A. & Modi, N. (2014). Preterm nutritional intake and MRI phenotype at term age: a prospective observational study. BMJ Open, 4(5), article number e005390. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005390


To describe (1) the relationship between nutrition and the preterm-at-term infant phenotype, (2) phenotypic differences between preterm-at-term infants and healthy term born infants and (3) relationships between somatic and brain MRI outcomes.

Prospective observational study.

UK tertiary neonatal unit.

Preterm infants (<32 weeks gestation) (n=22) and healthy term infants (n=39)

Main outcome measures:
Preterm nutrient intake; total and regional adipose tissue (AT) depot volumes; brain volume and proximal cerebral arterial vessel tortuosity (CAVT) in preterm infants and in term infants.

Preterm nutrition was deficient in protein and high in carbohydrate and fat. Preterm nutrition was not related to AT volumes, brain volume or proximal CAVT score; a positive association was noted between human milk intake and proximal CAVT score (r=0.44, p=0.05). In comparison to term infants, preterm infants had increased total adiposity, comparable brain volumes and reduced proximal CAVT scores. There was a significant negative correlation between deep subcutaneous abdominal AT volume and brain volume in preterm infants (r=−0.58, p=0.01).

Though there are significant phenotypic differences between preterm infants at term and term infants, preterm macronutrient intake does not appear to be a determinant. Our preliminary data suggest that (1) human milk may exert a beneficial effect on cerebral arterial vessel tortuosity and (2) there is a negative correlation between adiposity and brain volume in preterm infants at term. Further work is warranted to see if our findings can be replicated and to understand the causal mechanisms.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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