2015 Grant Award - Sara Ramel, M.D.

Optimizing Growth and Developmental Outcomes in Very Low Birth Weight Preterm Infants without Increasing Obesity and Metabolic Risk

Sara Ramel, M.D.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota

Growth restriction continues to affect the majority of very low birth weight (VLBW) preterm infants. Early aggressive nutrition is associated with improved growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes in this population. While often difficult to attain in these medically fragile patients, increased provision of calories and protein is becoming the standard of care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Advancing research on disproportionate growth and increased adiposity among preterm infants, coupled with concerns of increased rates of obesity and metabolic disease among other growth-restricted populations (The Barker Hypothesis), raises concerns about the potential negative long-term consequences of aggressive nutrition and rapid catch-up growth in the preterm population. To date, there have not been any prospective longitudinal studies of preterm infants that examine the impact of early nutrition, illness, and growth on later neurodevelopmental and metabolic outcomes. This study aims to inform later interventional studies in optimizing neurodevelopment without increasing metabolic risk in VLBW preterm infants.