Bone metabolism in very preterm infants receiving total parenteral nutrition: do intravenous fat emulsions have an impact?

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Very preterm infants (<32 weeks’ gestation) are at high risk for impaired skeletal development because of factors that limit the provision of extrauterine nutrients. Cumulative net deficiencies of calcium, phosphorus, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid (ARA) are evident in these infants after prolonged administration of total parenteral nutrition (TPN). This is significant because minerals as well as metabolites of DHA and ARA are important modulators of bone cell differentiation, lengthening of bone, and bone matrix deposition. Furthermore, diets containing only precursors of DHA and ARA result in suboptimal skeletal growth. With the emergence of new intravenous lipid emulsions, it is important to understand the impact of fatty acids on bone metabolism in the third trimester in order to optimize the provision of TPN in very preterm infants. The purpose of this review is to evaluate current evidence regarding intravenous lipid emulsions and bone metabolism in very preterm infants receiving prolonged TPN and to identify areas of research needed.

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