Enteral glutamine supplementation for very low birth weight infants decreases morbidity.
Glutamine, described as a "conditionally essential" amino acid for critically ill patients, has not been routinely added to parenteral amino acid formulations for critically ill neonates and is provided in only small quantities by the enteral route when enteral intake is low. We conducted a blinded, randomized study of enteral glutamine supplementation in 68 very low birth weight neonates randomly assigned to receive glutamine-supplemented premature formula versus premature formula alone between days 3 and 30 of life. Primary end points consisted of hospital-acquired sepsis, tolerance to subsequent enteral feedings (days with no oral intake), and duration of hospital stay. Hospital acquired sepsis was 30% (control group) and 11% (glutamine group). Logistic regression with birth weight as a covariate showed that: (1) feeding group was significant (p = 0.048) in determining the probability of developing proven sepsis over the course of hospitalization and (2) the estimated odds of developing sepsis were 3.8 times higher for infants in the control group than for those treated with glutamine. Glutamine-supplemented infants had better tolerance to enteral feedings as measured by percent of days on which feedings needed to be withheld (mean percentage of 8.8 vs 23.8, p = 0.007). Analysis of T cells demonstrated a blunting of the rise in HLA-DR+ and CD16 subsets in glutamine-supplemented infants. There were no differences in growth; in serum ammonia, urea, liver transaminase, or prealbumin concentrations; or in mean hospital stay. This study provides evidence for decreased morbidity in very-low-birth-weight neonates who receive enteral glutamine supplementation.
Neu, J; Roig, JC; Meetze, WH; Veerman, M; Carter, C; Millsaps, M; Bowling, D; Dallas, MJ; Sleasman, J; Knight, T; Auestad, N
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