Effects of glutamine on brain development in very preterm children at school age

Jorrit F. de Kieviet, Jaap Oosterlaan, R. Jeroen Vermeulen, Petra J. W. Pouwels, Harrie N. Lafeber, Ruurd M. van Elburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The amino acid glutamine has been shown to reduce the number of serious neonatal infections in very preterm children, which may benefit long-term brain development. The aims of the current follow-up study were to (1) determine the long-term effects of glutamine-enriched feeding in the first month after birth in very preterm children on measures of brain development at school age, and (2) elucidate a potential mediating role of serious neonatal infections. Fifty-two very preterm children who originally took part in a randomized controlled trial on enteral glutamine supplementation between day 3 and 30 after birth participated at a mean (SD) age of 8.6 (0.3) years. Measures of brain development included volumetric outcomes of major brain structures, as well as fractional anisotropy (FA) values of major white matter tracts. Glutamine supplementation in the first month was associated with medium-sized increases in white matter (d = 0.54, P = .03), hippocampus (d = 0.47, P = .02), and brain stem (d = 0.54, P = .04) volumes at school age. Exploratory analyses using an uncorrected P value indicated higher FA values of the bilateral cingulum hippocampal tract in the glutamine group. All differences were either strongly associated (hippocampus volume, brain stem volume, and FA values of cingulum hippocampal tract) or completely mediated (white matter volume) by the lower number of serious neonatal infections in the glutamine group. Short-term glutamine supplementation after birth increases white matter, hippocampus, and brain stem volumes in very preterm children at school age, mediated by a decrease in serious neonatal infections
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1121-e1127
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this