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Pediatrics. 1984 Feb;73(2):238-49.

Retrolental fibroplasia and vitamin E in the preterm infant--comparison of oral versus intramuscular:oral administration.


To evaluate the efficacy of four early intramuscular injections of vitamin E given in addition to continuous minimal oral vitamin E supplementation, 168 very low-birth-weight infants (less than or equal to 1,500 g) have enrolled in a randomized, double-masked, clinical study. All infants received vitamin E orally, 100 mg/kg/d. In addition, on days 1, 2, 4, and 6, seventy-nine infants received vitamin E intramuscularly, 15, 10, 10, and 10 mg/kg, respectively. On the same days, 89 control infants received placebo intramuscular injections. Multivariate analysis of the 135 infants who survived greater than or equal to 10 weeks showed no significant difference in the development of severe retrolental fibroplasia between these two supplementation schedules (P = .86). Plasma vitamin E levels never exceeded a mean of 3.3 mg/100 mL, and no toxicity was observed. Ultrastructural analyses of seven pairs of whole eye donations from infants receiving IM vitamin E demonstrated identical kinetics of gap junction formation between adjacent spindle cells as compared with 13 pairs of whole eye donations from control infants (P greater than .3). Therefore, oral vitamin E supplementation affords retinal protection against the development of severe retrolental fibroplasia when initiated on the first day of life and maintained continuously until retinal vascularization is complete.

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