High-energy and -protein diet increases brain and corticospinal tract growth in term and preterm infants after perinatal brain injury

Developmental Neuroscience, School of Clinical Medical Sciences (Child Health), University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 01/2008; 121(1):148-56. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2007-1267
Source: PubMed


Our hypothesis was that infants with perinatal brain injury fail to thrive in the first postnatal year because of increased energy and protein requirements from deficits that accumulated during neonatal intensive care. Our aim was to assess whether dietary energy and protein input was a rate-limiting factor in brain and body growth in the first year after birth.
We conducted a prospective, double-blind and randomized, 2-stage group sequential study and controlled for gestation, gender, and brain lesion. Neonates with perinatal brain damage were randomly allocated to receive either a high- (120% recommended average intake) or average (100% recommended average intake) energy and protein diet. The study began at term and continued for 12 months. Three-day dietary diaries estimated energy and protein intake. The primary outcome measure was growth of occipitofrontal circumference. Other measures were growth of axonal diameters in the corticospinal tract, which were estimated by using transcranial magnetic stimulation, weight gain, and length.
The study was terminated at the first analysis when the 16 subjects had completed the protocol, because the predetermined stopping criterion of >1 SD difference in occipitofrontal circumference at 12 months' corrected age in those receiving the higher-energy and -protein diet had been demonstrated. Axonal diameters in the corticospinal tract, length, and weight were also significantly increased.
These data support our hypothesis that infants with significant perinatal brain damage have increased nutritional requirements in the first postnatal year and suggest that decreased postnatal brain growth may exacerbate their impairment. There are no measures of cognitive ability at 12 months of age, and whether there will be any improvement in the status of these children, therefore, remains to be shown.

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    • "The possibility that diet might be important for stimulating recovery after early cortical injury is further supported by a study by Dabydeen et al. (2008). Human neonates with perinatal brain damage were randomly allocated to receive either a high- (120% recommended average intake) or average (100% recommended average intake) energy and protein diet. "
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