Effect of Enhanced Nutrition on Visual Perception in Infants With Very Low Birth Weight

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Role of Enhanced Nutrition on Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Infants With Very Low Birth Weight

A follow-up of an open, randomised, controlled trial that evaluated the effect of enhanced nutrient supply on the infants’ growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes was published in the journal Neonatology. This follow-up study aimed to compare the effects of an enhanced nutrient supply against a routine supply on the visual perception (assessed using visual event-related potentials [VERP] in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. The study was based on the hypothesis that increased nutrition to the brain would improve visual perception in infants.

The study included 50 infants with VLBW who were randomised to receive an increased supply of energy, essential fatty acids, fat, protein, and vitamin A (intervention group) or standard nutritional care (control group). The responses to global form and motion in infants at five months’ corrected age were investigated using VERP (at the first [f1] and third [f3] harmonics of the stimulus frequency).

Out of the 50 infants enrolled, only 31 infants (intervention group=18; control group=13) completed the study. There were significant differences in the motion VERP between the two groups. In comparison to the control group, a stronger f1 motion response was observed in the intervention group, especially near the posterior midline region, corresponding approximately to the central region of interest. A significant f3 motion response was also observed in the intervention group compared to the control group.

This study concluded that infants with VLBW who received enhanced energy and essential nutrients in the neonatal period responded more consistently to global motion. The enhanced nutrition provided to these infants led to brain growth and development, resulting in improved visual perception.

News source: Blakstad EW, Strømmen K, Moltu SJ, et al. Improved visual perception in very low birth weight infants on enhanced nutrient supply. Neonatology. 2015;108(1):30–37.