Effects of neonatal enteral glutamine supplementation on cognitive, motor and behavioural outcomes in very preterm and/or very low birth weight children at school age.
ABSTRACT In very preterm ( < 32 weeks of gestation) and/or very low birth weight (VLBW, < 1500 g birth weight) children, serious neonatal infections are among the main causes of poor developmental outcomes later in childhood. The amino acid glutamine has been shown to reduce the incidence of serious neonatal infections in very preterm and/or VLBW children, while developmental effects beyond 24 months are unknown. We determined the cognitive, motor and behavioural outcomes at school age of a cohort of sixty-four very preterm and/or VLBW children (aged 7·5 (sd 0·4) years) who participated in a randomised placebo-controlled trial using enteral glutamine between day 3 and day 30 of life. Cognitive and motor outcomes were studied using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III, the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC), the Attention Network Test and a visual working memory task. Behavioural outcomes were evaluated using parent- and teacher-rated questionnaires. Intelligence quotient, processing speed, attentional functioning, working memory and parent- and teacher-rated behavioural outcomes were not different between children treated with glutamine or placebo; only visuomotor abilities as measured by the Ball Skills scale of the MABC (P = 0·002; d = 0·67) were poorer in the glutamine group. This effect persisted after taking into account the beneficial effects of lower serious neonatal infections rates in children treated with glutamine (P = 0·005). In conclusion, glutamine supplementation between day 3 and day 30 of life had neither beneficial nor detrimental effects on long-term cognitive, motor and behavioural outcomes of very preterm and/or VLBW children at school age, although visuomotor abilities were poorer in children that received glutamine.