Background: Metabolic bone disease of prematurity still occurs in preterm infants, although a significant improvement in neonatal care has been observed in recent decades. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the precise technique for assessing bone mineral content (BMC) in preterm infants, but is not widely available.
Aim: To investigate the clinical and biochemical parameters, including bone metabolism markers as potential predictors of BMC, in preterm infants up to 3 months corrected age (CA).
Materials and methods: Ca-P homeostasis, iPTH, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, osteocalcin, N-terminal propeptide, cross-linked C-telopeptide and amino-terminal pro C-type natriuretic peptide and the DXA scans were prospectively performed in 184 preterm infants (≤ 34 weeks' gestation) between term age and 3 mo CA. Lower bone mass was defined as BMC below or equal to respective median value for the whole study group, rounded to the nearest whole number.
Results: The appropriate quality DXA scans were available for 160 infants (87%) examined at term and for 130 (71%) tested at 3 mo CA. Higher iPTH level was the only independent predictor of lower BMC at term, whereas lower BMC at 3 mo CA was associated both with lower urinary phosphate excretion and higher serum osteocalcin level. ROC analysis showed that iPTH >43.6 pg/mL provided 40% sensitivity and 88% specificity in identification of preterm infants with lower BMC at term. In turn, urinary phosphate excretion (TRP>97% or UP/Cr ≤0.74 mg/mg) and serum osteocalcin >172 ng/mL provided 40% sensitivity and 93% specificity in identification of infants with decreased BMC at 3 mo CA.
Conclusion: Serum iPTH might to be a simple predictor of reduced BMC in preterm infants at term age, but urinary phosphate excretion and serum osteocalcin might predict reduced BMC at 3 mo CA. These results represent a promising diagnostic tool based on simple, widely available biochemical measurements for bone mass assessment in preterm infants.