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J Perinat Med. 1999;27(5):395-8.

Vitamin E status of infants at birth.

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Department of Neonatology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.


Preterm infants may be susceptible to chronic lung disease and retinopathy of prematurity because of deficient antioxidant mechanisms including deficiency of vitamin E. The aim of this study was to evaluate the status of the antioxidant vitamin E among preterm and term livebirths. Umbilical cord blood samples collected from 40 preterm and 180 term babies were analyzed for vitamin E levels using high performance liquid chromatography. Linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship of vitamin E with gestational age, birth weight and appropriateness of weight for gestational age. The median vitamin E level of preterm babies (2.61 mg/L) was not significantly different from that of term babies (2.77 mg/L), p = 0.2. Linear regression analysis demonstrated a weak but statistically significant correlation between cord blood vitamin E levels and gestational age (r = 0.14, p = 0.046). Vitamin E levels did not correlate with birth weight or weight for gestational age. Preterm babies had a higher incidence of vitamin E deficiency compared to term babies (38% v 19%, p = 0.02). Our findings lead us to conclude that vitamin E accumulates in the fetus throughout the third trimester so that preterm infants are likely to have vitamin E deficiency.

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