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Glutamine supplementation to prevent morbidity and mortality in preterm infants

  • Review
  • Intervention

Authors


Abstract

Background

Glutamine endogenous biosynthesis may be insufficient for tissue needs in states of metabolic stress. Trials in adults have suggested that glutamine supplementation improves clinical outcomes in critically ill adults. It has been suggested that glutamine supplementation may benefit preterm infants, particularly very low birth weight infants.

Objectives

To determine the effects of glutamine supplementation on mortality and morbidity in preterm infants.

Search methods

The standard search strategy of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group was used. This included searches of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2007), MEDLINE (1966 - July 2007), EMBASE (1980 - July 2007), conference proceedings, and previous reviews.

Selection criteria

Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials that compared glutamine supplementation versus no glutamine supplementation in preterm infants at any time from birth to discharge from hospital.

Data collection and analysis

The standard methods of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group were used, with separate evaluation of trial quality and data extraction by two authors. Data were synthesised using a fixed effects model and reported using typical relative risk, typical risk difference and weighted mean difference.

Main results

2365 preterm infants have participated in seven randomised controlled trials. All of the participating infants were of very low birth weight. Three trials assessed enteral glutamine supplementation and four trials assessed parenteral glutamine supplementation. The trials were generally of good methodological quality with adequate allocation concealment, blinding of caregivers and assessors to the intervention, and complete or near-complete follow-up of recruited infants. Glutamine supplementation does not have a statistically significant effect on mortality: typical relative risk 0.98 (95% confidence interval 0.80 to 1.20); typical risk difference 0.00 (95% confidence interval -0.03 to 0.02). The only trial that assessed long-term outcomes did not find any statistically significant differences in various assessments of neurodevelopment at 18 months corrected age. Glutamine supplementation does not have a statistically significant effect on other neonatal morbidities including invasive infection, necrotising enterocolitis, time to achieve full enteral nutrition, or duration of hospital stay.

Authors' conclusions

The available data from good quality randomised controlled trials indicate that glutamine supplementation does not confer benefits for preterm infants. The narrow confidence intervals for the effect size estimates suggest that a further trial of this intervention is not a research priority.

Plain language summary

Glutamine supplementation to prevent morbidity and mortality in preterm infants

Glutamine is an important nutrient for growth and development. Glutamine may be especially important in aiding recovery from critical illness. This review found several well-conducted randomised controlled trials that assessed the impact of providing extra glutamine to preterm infants. These trials did not find any evidence that glutamine supplementation affected the risk of death, serious infection, serious gastrointestinal complications, or adverse long-term development.

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