Background: Premature infants are at risk of vitamin A deficiency due to inadequate transplacental transport, inadequate storage and increased tissue utilization. Previous studies reported a significant decrease in serum vitamin A levels in premature infants at birth compared to those of full term infants.
Objective: To determine serial changes of plasma vitamin A status during the first month of life in 19 healthy, very low birth weight premature infants.
Method: Subjects were fed with premature infant formula and received multivitamin supplementation. Plasma vitamin A concentrations were measured at 7, 14, and 30 days of age.
Results: Plasma vitamin A levels at 7,14 and 30 days of age were 24.63 +/- 6.08, 30.97 +/- 5.26 and 30.68 +/- 7.14 microg/dl, respectively. Plasma vitamin A levels at age 7 days were significantly lower than those at 14 and 30 days of life (p < 0.001). Three infants out of 19 (16%) had low plasma vitamin A (<20 microg/dl) at 7 days. At 14 and 30 days of age, all infants had normal plasma vitamin A levels.
Conclusion: The results suggested that healthy premature infants were prone to subclinical vitamin A deficiency during the first week of life which could be treated by adequate enteral feeding and routine multivitamin supplementation. A high dose of vitamin A supplementation was not necessary in healthy premature infants.