Very preterm infants are at a higher risk for developing neurodevelopmental disabilities and poor growth. Carnitine is an amino acid that is involved in energy metabolism and has neuroprotective properties. A recent study found that carnitine supplementation was associated with better postnatal growth and larger brain size in very preterm infants.
Carnitine is found in high concentrations in the brain and muscles. It is essential for the transport of long-chain fatty acids across the inner mitochondrial membrane for beta-oxidation. Carnitine has also been shown to have neuroprotective effects, which may be mediated by its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The current study investigated the effects of carnitine supplementation on postnatal growth and brain development in very preterm infants. A total of 96 very preterm infants were randomized to receive either carnitine or placebo. The carnitine group received 50 mg/kg/day of carnitine supplementation starting within 24 hours of birth.
Growth measurements were taken at discharge and at 3, 6, and 12 months. Brain MRI was performed at term-equivalent age. The carnitine group had significantly greater weight and head circumference at 3, 6, and 12 months. They also had larger total brain volume, white matter volume, and cortical surface area compared to the placebo group.
These findings suggest that carnitine supplementation is associated with better postnatal growth and larger brain size in very preterm infants. This study provides preliminary evidence that carnitine supplementation may improve neurodevelopmental outcomes in very preterm infants.
Carnitine is a nutrient found in many foods, and is also available as a dietary supplement. Carnitine plays an important role in energy metabolism, and is especially important for heart and brain function. Several studies have shown that carnitine supplementation can improve cognitive performance in adults, and now a new study has found that carnitine intake is associated with better postnatal growth and larger brain size in very preterm infants.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, involved giving carnitine supplements to a group of 68 very preterm infants, who were born at an average gestational age of 27 weeks. The infants were given carnitine supplements for the first four weeks of life, and then were followed for six months.
The researchers found that infants who received carnitine supplements had significantly greater increases in head circumference and weight, compared to those who did not receive carnitine supplements. In addition, the carnitine-supplemented infants had larger brains at six months of age, as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
These findings suggest that carnitine supplementation may have long-term benefits for very preterm infants, by promoting better growth and brain development. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the optimal dose and duration of carnitine supplementation for very preterm infants.