Antioxidant enzyme activities are decreased in preterm infants and in neonates born via caesarean section

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2002 Jul 10;103(2):136-9. doi: 10.1016/s0301-2115(02)00050-7.


Objectives: To investigate the antioxidant defense potential of human neonates according to gestational age and mode of delivery.

Study design: Four study groups were established, full-term normal spontaneous vaginal delivery (FT-NSVD, n=24), full-term caesarean section (FT-CS, n=19), preterm normal spontaneous vaginal delivery (PT-NSVD, n=15) preterm caesarean section (PT-CS, n=21). The activity of catalase (CAT), glutathion peroxidase (GPX), Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD) were determined from cord blood. Statistical analysis was made by ANOVA.

Results: CAT activity was significantly higher in full-term than in preterm newborns. In both the categories, neonates born via caesarean section had significantly lower CAT activities. GPX activity was significantly higher in the FT-NSVD group than in any other group. Cu/Zn-SOD activity was significantly higher in full-term neonates than in preterms and no difference was found related to the mode of delivery.

Conclusions: Prematurity and caesarean section may cause a deficiency of antioxidant defense in human newborn.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Catalase / blood
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Enzymes / blood*
  • Female
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / metabolism
  • Infant, Premature / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reference Values
  • Superoxide Dismutase / blood


  • Antioxidants
  • Enzymes
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase