Infants born with low birthweight (LBW) have poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes compared with their term counterparts with appropriate weight for gestational age. The perinatal period is a time of high energy and high nutrient needs, and any process, such as preterm birth, poor nutrition or placental insufficiency, that interrupts the concentrated flow of nutrients to the fetus may result in babies with LBW. Therefore, it makes logical sense that at least part of the cognitive deficits may be explained by nutritional deprivation. The nutrients commonly deficient in LBW infants include protein and energy and micronutrients such as iron, zinc and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. In this review, we aimed to determine the effect of nutrient supplementation on neurodevelopment in LBW infants. While few trials have supported the hypothesis that nutritional supplementation improves neurodevelopment, many studies are limited by sample size and methodological shortcomings. Further large-scale rigorously designed intervention trials, with long-term neurodevelopment follow-up, are required to determine the optimal nutritional supplements and the timing of their administration to LBW infants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics