Impact of Early Nutritional Intake on Preterm Brain: A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

J Pediatr. 2017 Feb:181:29-36.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.09.073. Epub 2016 Nov 10.


Objectives: To investigate the association between early nutritional intake and brain development assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Study design: A cohort of neonates born at ≤30 weeks gestational age underwent MRI at term equivalent age. Brain maturation and injury were assessed using the Kidokoro score. Two groups were defined by severity of the scores. The associations between macronutrients intake during the first 2 weeks of life, clinical factors, and imaging scores were analyzed using logistic regression.

Results: MRI scores from group 1 patients (n = 27) were normal to mildly abnormal (0-5). Group 2 (n = 15) had more abnormal scores (6-12). The median gestational ages (IQR) were 27.4 (1.9) weeks in group 1 and 27.0 (2.9) weeks in group 2, with birth weights of 900 (318) g (group 1) and 844 (293) g (group 2). In group 2, energy, lipid, and carbohydrate intake were significantly lower than in group 1. Group 2 also showed higher rates of sepsis and clinical risk scores than group 1. After adjustments in bivariate models, higher energy and lipid intake remained significantly associated with improved scores on MRI. This association was stronger for the gray matter component of the score.

Conclusions: Higher energy and lipid intake during the first 2 weeks after birth was associated with a lower incidence of brain lesions and dysmaturation at term equivalent age in preterm neonates.

Keywords: Kidokoro score; brain development; brain maturation; growth; lipids; macronutrients; neonate; nutrients; nutrition; preterm brain injury; preterm infant.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Gray Matter / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Term Birth