Background Vitamins A (VA) and E (VE) are essential nutrients for normal development and optimal health. This study was aimed to test the efficiency of vitamin supplementation in very low birth weight (VLBW) Tunisian infants during the perinatal period.
Methods The study included 148 VLBW infants (birth weight <1500 g), admitted to the neonatology service (Tunis, Tunisia). Vitamin A and E levels were determined by HPLC at the day admission, which correspond to day of the birth and the day of the return of the optimal weight, which generally correspond to the day of departure. Moderate and severe vitamin deficiencies were considered for plasma VA<20 μg/dL and <10 μg/dL, and plasma VE<300 μg/dL and <100 μg/dL, respectively.
Results We observed a significant increase of plasma VA (19.6±12.9 vs 14.8±12.7 μg/dL; p = 0.001) and plasma VE (632±628 vs 238±179 μg/dL; p<0.001) between the admittance and the departure. From birth day to departure day, there was a significant decrease of the prevalence of moderate deficiencies (77.7% to 60.5% for VA and 75.7% to 32.2% for VE) and severe deficiencies (28.4% to 16.3% for VA and 16.2% to 5.4% for VE).
Conclusion Enhancement of vitamin A and E status in VLBW Tunisian infants during the hospitalisation period remains insufficient. The strategy for vitamin supplementation in preterm infant in Tunisia should be revised to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality related to vitamins A and E deficiencies.