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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jul 11;7:CD005947. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005947.pub3.

Glutamine supplementation for young infants with severe gastrointestinal disease.

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  • 1Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, York, UK.



Endogenous glutamine biosynthesis may be insufficient to meet the needs of people with severe gastrointestinal disease. Studies using experimental animal models and controlled trials in adult patients with severe gastrointestinal disease have suggested that glutamine supplementation improves clinical outcomes. This review examines evidence for the effect of glutamine supplementation in young infants with severe gastrointestinal disease.


To assess the evidence from randomised controlled trials that providing supplemental glutamine reduces mortality and morbidity in young infants with severe gastrointestinal disease.


We used the standard search strategy of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group. This included searches of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library, 2012, Issue 1), MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL (to November 2011), conference proceedings, and previous reviews.


Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials that compared glutamine supplementation versus no glutamine supplementation in infants up to three months old (corrected for preterm birth if necessary) with severe gastrointestinal disease defined as a congenital or acquired gastrointestinal condition that is likely to necessitate providing parenteral nutrition for at least 24 hours.


We extracted data using the standard methods of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group with separate evaluation of trial quality and data extraction by two review authors. We synthesised data using a fixed-effect model and reported typical risk ratio (RR), typical risk difference (RD), and weighted mean difference (WMD).


We found two trials in which a total of 100 infants participated. The trials were of good methodological quality but were too small to detect clinically important effects of glutamine supplementation. Meta-analysis did not reveal a statistically significant difference in the risk of death before hospital discharge (typical RR 1.57; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.25 to 9.66; RD 0.02; 95% CI -0.06 to 0.10) or in the rate of invasive infection [typical RR 1.22; 95% CI 0.55 to 2.70; RD 0.04; 95% CI -0.12 to 0.20).


The available data from randomised controlled trials are insufficient to determine whether glutamine supplementation has any important benefits for young infants with severe gastrointestinal disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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