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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1985 Feb;4(1):38-44.

Bilirubin production after supplemental oral vitamin E therapy in preterm infants.


The purpose of this investigation was to determine the influence of early vitamin E supplementation on the rate of heme catabolism (bilirubin production) in healthy preterm infants. Bilirubin production was estimated from the concentration of carbon monoxide in "end-tidal" gas. Serum vitamin E, hemoglobin, and bilirubin levels were determined by standard techniques. Thirty infants received supplementation with vitamin E or placebo in a double-blind, randomized fashion. Infants were studied on day 1 of life prior to therapy, and on days 3 and 7 postnatally. Results showed that in both placebo-supplemented and vitamin E-supplemented groups, vitamin E levels were significantly higher on days 3 and 7 compared with day 1. Bilirubin production was not significantly different on day 3 compared with day 1 in either group, but was significantly lower in both groups by day 7 compared with day 1. There were no significant differences in hemoglobin and serum bilirubin levels between the two groups at any point in time. In conclusion, although vitamin E supplementation significantly raises vitamin E levels, placebo-supplemented premature infants also achieve vitamin E sufficiency and a decrease in bilirubin production by day 7 of age.

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