Serum tocopherol levels in very preterm infants after a single dose of vitamin E at birth
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to examine the impact of a single enteral dose of vitamin E on serum tocopherol levels. The study was undertaken to see whether a single dose of vitamin E soon after birth can rapidly increase the low ?-tocopherol levels seen in very preterm infants. If so, this intervention could be tested as a means of reducing the risk of intracranial hemorrhage. <br><br>METHODS: Ninety-three infants <27 weeks’ gestation and <1000 g were randomly assigned to receive a single dose of vitamin E or placebo by gastric tube within 4 hours of birth. The vitamin E group received 50 IU/kg of vitamin E as dl-?-tocopheryl acetate (Aquasol E). The placebo group received sterile water. Blood samples were taken for measurement of serum tocopherol levels by high-performance liquid chromatography before dosing and 24 hours and 7 days after dosing. <br><br>RESULTS: Eighty-eight infants received the study drug and were included in the analyses. The ?-tocopherol levels were similar between the groups at baseline but higher in the vitamin E group at 24 hours (median 0.63 mg/dL vs 0.42 mg/dL, P = .003) and 7 days (2.21 mg/dL vs 1.86 mg/dL, P = .04). There were no differences between groups in ?-tocopherol levels. At 24 hours, 30% of vitamin E infants and 62% of placebo infants had ?-tocopherol levels <0.5 mg/dL. <br><br>CONCLUSIONS: A 50-IU/kg dose of vitamin E raised serum ?-tocopherol levels, but to consistently achieve ?-tocopherol levels >0.5 mg/dL, a higher dose or several doses of vitamin E may be needed.