Premature infants fed mothers' milk to 6 months corrected age demonstrate adequate growth and zinc status in the first year
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The objective of this investigation was to describe zinc status to 12 months corrected age in premature infants fed their mother's milk in relation to nutritional management in hospital and post-hospital discharge. Twenty-five premature infants fed their mother's milk in hospital were randomized to receive either a multi-nutrient fortifier (MNF), providing protein, calcium, phosphorus and zinc (MM + MNF) or calcium and phosphorus alone (MM + CaGP). Twelve preterm infants fed a preterm formula (PTF) served as a comparison group. At 35 weeks post-menstrual age zinc retention was determined using the stable isotope tracer 70Zn. After hospital discharge infants in MM + MNF and MM + CaGP were designated to a mother's milk-feeding group to 6 months corrected age (Post-MM) or formula feeding group (Post-FF) based on parental choice of feeding practice. Anthropometry was performed at term, three, 6 and 12 months corrected age. At 6 and 12 months corrected age a hair sample was obtained to determine hair zinc concentrations. Preterm infants receiving supplemental zinc in hospital, as MNF, had significantly greater zinc retention in hospital compared to MM + CaGP but not greater hair zinc concentrations at 6 or 12 months corrected age. Despite significantly lower zinc intakes to 6 months corrected age, Post-MM had significantly greater hair zinc concentrations at 6 months compared to PTF (median[25-75th percentile]: 146[106-190] versus 85[54-91] microg/g, P < 0.05). Hair zinc in Post-FF (124[77-163] microg/g) was lower than Post-MM, but this was not significant (P = 0.09). Only in Post-MM were hair zinc concentrations above the median of reference values from term born infants at 12 months corrected age. Mean values of weight, length and head circumference of the preterm infants in Post-MM, Post-FF and PTF groups were between the 3rd and 97th percentiles derived from WHO reference growth standards for mother's milk-fed term infants. Our findings suggest that supplemental zinc either in hospital or post-hospital discharge does not appear to be required for preterm infants fed their mother's milk.
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