`Benefits of Olive Oil for Low Birthweight Infants

Health

Benefits of Olive Oil for Low Birthweight Infants

Mar. 4, 2016
By Jedha Dening

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Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants are con­sid­ered those neonates born less than 1.5 kg. Although only one per­cent of newly born infants are born at such low birth rates, this group claims 50 per­cent of all infant deaths.

VLBW infants fre­quently have a range of issues due to imma­ture func­tion of var­i­ous organs. Numer­ous cases indi­cate that dis­as­trous out­comes can result when these infants don’t receive ade­quate nutri­tion dur­ing the first few days after birth. There­fore, one of the pri­mary goals is to pro­vide suit­able nour­ish­ment and then to encour­age weight gain.

EVOO con­tains impor­tant nat­ural antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory nutri­ents for preterm infants.- Uni­ver­sity of New­cas­tle Researchers

In a recent ran­dom­ized con­trolled pilot study, pub­lished in the British Med­ical Jour­nal, 2016, researchers eval­u­ated weight gain­ing, length of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and the oxida­tive stress related dis­eases (OSRDs), includ­ing retinopa­thy of pre­ma­tu­rity, bron­chopul­monary dys­pla­sia, periven­tric­u­lar leuko­ma­la­cia and necro­tiz­ing ente­ro­col­i­tis, of VLBW infants.

In the study there were 26 VLBW infants divided into two groups: Group 1 received enteral nutri­tion plus extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO), and group 2 received enteral nutri­tion alone. EVOO was added to the enteral nutri­tion at a rate of 0.5 ml/day in 100 ml enteral nutri­tion. Group 1, the EVOO group, gained an aver­age 1,329 g, group 2 gained 1,276 g.

Though there was no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between the two groups, the authors state that, EVOO con­tains very impor­tant nat­ural antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory nutri­ents for preterm infants par­tic­u­larly VLBW.” They sug­gest that larger ran­dom­ized tri­als are needed to deter­mine the antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory effects of olive oil for pre­ven­tion of OSRDs in this high risk group.”

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A sin­gle blind ran­dom­ized con­trolled trial, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Fam­ily and Repro­duc­tive Health, eval­u­ated the effect of olive oil (OO) as a sup­ple­ment to breast milk in increas­ing the weight gain­ing of VLBW infants.

In this study there were 48 VLBW infants divided into two groups: Group 1 received OO added to the breast milk (0.5 cc per 30 cc of milk), and group 2 received breast milk only with no sup­ple­men­tary nutri­tion. Both groups received a daily feed­ing vol­ume of 150 – 200 cc for each kilo­gram of body weight.

The weight of group 1 went from 1,184 g at birth to 1,425 g at dis­charge, group 2 went from 1,293 g at birth to 1,410 g at dis­charge — a 280 g weight gain­ing in group 1 (the OO group) com­pared to just 117 g in the con­trol group 2. Hos­pi­tal­iza­tion time was also lower in group 1, 20.33 days, com­pared to 28.29 days in group 2. The authors attrib­uted this to an increased improve­ment in immune sys­tem func­tion in group 1.

Fur­ther to this a review pub­lished last year in Clin­i­cal Med­i­cine Insights: Pedi­atrics looked in-depth at the use of intra­venous lipids for very low birth and other crit­i­cally ill neonates.

Accord­ing to the authors, there is a reluc­tance to use early intra­venous lipids. There­fore the review inves­ti­gated lipid bio­chem­istry and metab­o­lism of lipids, ori­gins of cur­rent clin­i­cal prac­tice, var­i­ous clin­i­cal con­cerns that may arise, and delved into a review of the lit­er­a­ture to estab­lish some clar­ity in this con­tro­ver­sial area.

Based on the words of pro­fes­sor Josef Neu, the authors con­cluded that, there are com­pelling rea­sons for early use of lipids, which include pre­ven­tion of essen­tial fatty acid (EFA) defi­ciency, pro­vi­sion of energy, and pro­vi­sion of sub­strates for long chain polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acid (LCPUFA) syn­the­sis all of which are impor­tant for the growth and devel­op­ment of VLBW infants.”

It cer­tainly appears we need more research in this area to estab­lish any defin­i­tive prac­tices to aid the health and devel­op­ment of VLBW infants. How­ever, tak­ing the ran­dom­ized tri­als into con­sid­er­a­tion, the health ben­e­fits of EVOO for low birth weight infants seems to deserve fur­ther explo­ration.


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