Preterm Infants Need Optimized Nutrition For Maximal Brain Growth Interview with:
Katherine Ottolini MD, lead study author

Children’s National Health System and

Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., senior study author

Dr. Limperopoulos

Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., senior study author and
Director of Developing Brain Research Laboratory
Children’s National Health System What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Nutrition is an important modifiable factor for brain development in premature infants, however few studies have evaluated the impact of nutritional interventions in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on structural brain development in very premature infants using advanced, quantitative MRI techniques.

The goal of this study was to utilize quantitative MRI to evaluate the impact of macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) and energy intake throughout the duration of the NICU stay on brain volumes and white matter development in very premature infants at term-equivalent age (TEA).

We prospectively enrolled 68 very low birthweight infants (< 1500g) admitted to Children’s NICU within the first 7 days of life. We found significant negative associations between cumulative macronutrient and energy intake on both the brain’s white matter microstructural development (in the superior cerebellar peduncle, corpus callosum) and regional brain volumetric growth (cortical gray matter and cerebellum).

In contrast, when evaluating average nutritional intake, we found significant associations between lipid and energy intake and regional brain volumes in the cortical gray matter, brainstem and cerebellum.  Continue reading