Bone disease with persistent reduced bone mineralisation is common in premature infants. To test the hypothesis that enhancement of nutritional intake after discharge from hospital improves bone mineralisation, 31 formula fed preterm infants were randomly assigned to receive standard or multinutrient enriched milk from the time of discharge. The calcium and phosphorus contents of the enriched milk were 70 and 35 mg/100 ml v 35 and 29 mg/100 ml for the standard formula. Bone mineral content was measured before discharge from hospital in 21 of the infants; there was no difference in the bone mineral content between the groups at that time (35 mg/cm for the two groups). There was a significant increase in bone mineral content for those infants receiving the enriched v standard formula at 3 and 9 months corrected postnatal age: at 3 months the bone mineral content was 83 v 63 mg/cm and at 9 months 115 v 95 mg/cm. The difference between the groups was thus maintained although not increased at a corrected age of 9 months, when the bone mineral content of infants fed the enriched but not the standard formula was no longer significantly different from that of normal infants after adjusting for body size. The difference was not explained by the larger body size in infants fed the enriched formula. The results suggest that the use of a special nutrient enriched postdischarge formula has a significant positive effect on bone growth and mineralisation during a period of rapid skeletal development.
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