Impact of L-carnitine supplementation on metabolic profiles in premature infants

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To describe the influence that of L-carnitine supplementation on acylcarnitine (AC) profiles and hospital outcomes in premature infants.


This study is a secondary analysis of previously reported work. Metabolic profiles were obtained using standard newborn techniques on infants born between 23 and 31 completed weeks of gestation. The profiles were drawn within the first 24 h after birth and on approximately days 7, 28 and 42 of life, or at the time of discharge. A single, central, contract laboratory analyzed and managed the samples.


We studied 995 patients; none was subsequently diagnosed with an inborn error of metabolism. L-Carnitine was added to parenteral nutrition in 390 (39%) study subjects; 592 (60%) did not receive supplementation. Non-supplemented infants were more likely to develop low levels of free carnitine (FC; <7 μm) on day 28; (41% vs 5%, P<0.01); and FC values were lower on day 7. Despite higher levels of FC and fewer patients with significant carnitine deficiencies, we found no evidence that L-carnitine supplementation was associated with improved short-term hospital outcomes.


L-Carnitine supplementation is common in prematurely born neonates and is associated with higher carnitine levels, but is not associated with improved short-term hospital outcomes.

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