The effect of olfactory stimulation on energy expenditure in growing preterm infants

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To test the hypothesis that olfactory stimulation in growing healthy preterm infants leads to an increase in resting energy expenditure (REE).


A prospective, randomized clinical trial with crossover was conducted in 20 healthy, appropriate weights for gestational age, gavage-fed preterm infants. Infants were studied while asleep and cared for in a skin servo-controlled convective incubator. Using a pipette, 15 drops of saturated solution of vanillin (Aldrich, Fallavier, France) were dripped to a cloth diaper that was placed on the opposite side of the incubator. REE was measured by indirect calorimetry (DeltaTrac II, Helsinki, Finland) exactly 1 h after feeding. Each infant was studied twice by randomization: after a period of 20 min of vanillin odour or after 20 min without vanillin odour.


We found no statistically significant difference in REE of preterm infants when exposed to vanillin odour (74.5 ± 10.1 kcal/kg/day) in comparison with their REE when not exposed to vanillin odour (79.0 ± 11.3 kcal/kg/day).


Vanillin odour does not significantly influence REE in metabolically and thermally stable preterm infants.

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