Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 2, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: At the time of hospital discharge, which generally coincides with the attainment of term gestational age, premature infants have significantly lower bone mineral content than term infants. The consequences of inadequate mineral substrate deposition during the period of rapid skeletal growth may manifest either as poor bone mineralization, reduced linear growth, rickets, or fractures. The results of prospective studies suggest that early nutrition affects later growth, specifically linear growth, in premature infants. Follow-up studies of premature infants after hospitalization suggest that bone mineralization is affected negatively by the feeding of unfortified human milk and positively by the feeding of enriched formula diets. The long-term consequences of these studies indicate that catch-up bone mineralization is possible. The bone development of the premature infant is complex and further studies, delineating the major confounding factors and utilizing the newer methodologies, are warranted to address the potential consequences.