J Nutr. 2015 Sep;145(9):2084-91
Suboptimal nutrition during fetal life and early childhood may be important in early programming of health and disease. Preterm infants born with very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 g) frequently receive inadequate neonatal nutrition; the long-term consequences are poorly known.
We evaluated the association between early macronutrient intake and body composition in young adults born with VLBW.
We collected comprehensive information on daily nutritional intake during the initial hospital stay for 127 participants of the Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults. We calculated mean daily intakes of energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrate during the first 9 wk of life. At the mean age of 22.5 y, the subjects underwent measurements of weight, height, body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and resting energy expenditure. The associations were examined by linear regression.
We found that energy, protein, and fat intakes during the first 3 wk of life, all below current recommendations, predicted adult body composition. When adjusted for sex, age, birth weight SD score, and gestational age, a 1 g · kg(-1) · d(-1) higher protein intake predicted 11.1% higher lean body mass (LBM) (95% CI: 3.7%, 18.9%) and 8.5% higher resting energy expenditure (REE) (95% CI: 0.2%, 17.0%). Among those born before 28 wk of gestation, the numbers were 22.5% (95% CI: 1.9%, 47.4%) for LBM and 22.1% (95% CI: 3.6%, 44.0%) for REE. Similar associations were seen with energy (P = 0.01, P = 0.05) and fat (P < 0.01, P = 0.03) but not with carbohydrate. Energy intake was also associated with BMI (P = 0.01) and fat intake with BMI (P < 0.01) and percentage body fat (P = 0.05). The results were little changed when adjusted for prenatal and postnatal characteristics.
At relatively low neonatal protein intake levels, additional protein intake is reflected in a healthier body composition, accompanied by a higher metabolic rate, in young adults born with VLBW 20 y earlier