Issues in Nutrient Supplementation of Breast-Milk Fed Low Birth Weight Infants (Commentary) (Clinical Report)
Of the 20.6 million low birth weight (LBW) infants born every year, about 8 million are born in India (1). Low birth weight is the most important risk factor for neonatal mortality, contributing to about three quarters of neonatal deaths in India (2). In order to survive through infancy, LBW infants need additional care particularly with regard to breathing, temperature maintenance, feeding, hygiene and early recognition and treatment of infections. LBW infants are a heterogeneous group-born too early, born too small, or both–and the spectrum varies for developing and developed countries. In India, over two thirds of LBW infants are term. In this issue Elizabeth and colleagues report (3) the findings of a study of umbilical cord blood nutrients in preterm and term LBW infants. Blood concentrations of all nutrients including proteins, fats, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron were lower in LBW infants, particularly in preterm LBW infants. These are important findings, but their implications for recommendations for feeding of LBW infants need to be carefully considered. Lower nutrient levels in LBW infants should not automatically lead to a recommendation for nutrient supplementation.