Antioxidant vitamin levels in term and preterm infants and their relation to maternal vitamin status

Arch Med Res. 2002 May-Jun;33(3):276-80. doi: 10.1016/s0188-4409(02)00356-9.


Background: Lipid peroxidation plays a vital role in the pathogenesis of many neonatal complications. Preterm babies are especially predisposed to lung diseases and retinopathy, probably due to a deficiency in their antioxidant systems. Vitamins E, A, and C are part of the natural antioxidant defense systems. We aimed to determine the levels of vitamins E, A, and C in maternal and cord blood plasma of term and preterm infants and to investigate the relationships between these levels.

Methods: In the present study we determined vitamin E, A, and C levels in the umbilical cord blood of term (n = 30) and preterm (n = 22) infants and their mothers by HPLC. Blood samples were taken during delivery.

Results: Levels of lipid soluble antioxidant vitamin E and A in cord blood were lower than maternal values (p <0.01, p <0.05, respectively). Conversely, the level of water-soluble vitamin C was higher in cord blood than in maternal level (p <0.05). Significantly higher levels of vitamins E, A, and C were found in term babies as compared with those born preterm (p <0.05).

Conclusions: There was a positive correlation between maternal and cord blood levels of vitamins E and A (r = 0.775, r = 0.725, respectively). In conclusion, preterm babies have fewer lipid-soluble antioxidant vitamins in their serum compared to term infants. Therefore, it is possible to postulate that preterm infants are more susceptible to oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Pregnancy / blood*


  • Antioxidants