`Benefits of Olive Oil for Low Birthweight Infants


Benefits of Olive Oil for Low Birthweight Infants

Mar. 4, 2016
By Jedha Dening

Recent News

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.”


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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