We have previously shown that pregnant Korean mothers often have especially poor carnitine status, which may be responsible for the suboptimal carnitine levels of newborn Korean infants. This study tested the hypothesis that carnitine obtained from premature infant formula alone is adequate in sustaining optimal lipid metabolism and growth in premature infants. Accordingly, we investigated the effects of parenteral carnitine supplementation on carnitine status, growth parameters, and lipid metabolism in premature infants by measuring serum lipid profiles, carnitine and beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations, and body weight, size, and length. Twenty-five low-birth weight Korean infants were randomly assigned to control (LCNS, n = 12) or L-carnitine-supplemented (10 mg/[kg d], LCS, n = 13) groups. On day 9, the triacylglycerol concentration was lower in the LCS group; but the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration and free, acyl, and total carnitine and beta-hydroxybutyrate were significantly increased compared with the LCNS group. The ratio of acyl carnitine to free carnitine was significantly lower on day 5 in the LCS compared with the LCNS group. Body weight, height, Apgar score (1 and 5 minute), head circumference, and chest circumference were recorded on day 0; and body weight was measured again on days 5 and 9. Infant formula intake was recorded every day. There was no significant difference in body weight or growth parameters between the groups from days 0 to 9.Therefore, we concluded that, in low-birth weight infants, the addition of 10 mg/(kg d) supplemental carnitine significantly improves lipid profiles and serum carnitine level but does not enhance growth.
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