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High-energy and -protein diet increases brain and corticospinal tract growth in term and preterm infants after perinatal brain injury

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Lyvia Dabydeen, Dr Julian Thomas, Tessa Aston, Professor Sunil Sinha, Professor Janet Eyre


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OBJECTIVE. Our hypothesis was that infants with perinatal brain injury fail to thrive in the first postnatal year because of increased energy and protein requirements from deficits that accumulated during neonatal intensive care. Our aim was to assess whether dietary energy and protein input was a rate-limiting factor in brain and body growth in the first year after birth. METHODS. We conducted a prospective, double-blind and randomized, 2-stage group sequential study and controlled for gestation, gender, and brain lesion. Neonates with perinatal brain damage were randomly allocated to receive either a high- (120% recommended average intake) or average (100% recommended average intake) energy and protein diet. The study began at term and continued for 12 months. Three-day dietary diaries estimated energy and protein intake. The primary outcome measure was growth of occipitofrontal circumference. Other measures were growth of axonal diameters in the corticospinal tract, which were estimated by using transcranial magnetic stimulation, weight gain, and length. RESULTS. The study was terminated at the first analysis when the 16 subjects had completed the protocol, because the predetermined stopping criterion of >1 SD difference in occipitofrontal circumference at 12 months' corrected age in those receiving the higher-energy and -protein diet had been demonstrated. Axonal diameters in the corticospinal tract, length, and weight were also significantly increased. CONCLUSIONS. These data support our hypothesis that infants with significant perinatal brain damage have increased nutritional requirements in the first postnatal year and suggest that decreased postnatal brain growth may exacerbate their impairment. There are no measures of cognitive ability at 12 months of age, and whether there will be any improvement in the status of these children, therefore, remains to be shown. Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dabydeen L, Thomas JE, Aston TJ, Hartley H, Sinha SK, Eyre JA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Pediatrics

Year: 2008

Volume: 121

Issue: 1

Pages: 148-156

Print publication date: 01/01/2008

ISSN (print): 0031-4005

ISSN (electronic): 1098-4275

Publisher: American Academy of Pediatrics


DOI: 10.1542/peds.2007-1267

PubMed id: 18166569


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust
065577Wellcome Trust