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Vitamin B Levels Higher In Premature Babies, Indicative Of Systemic Immaturity [Study]

Vitamin B6 Levels Higher In Premature Newborns

Levels of vitamin B, specifically vitamin B6, are found in higher levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of premature newborns than in full term newborns, indicating an immaturity of the enzymatic system, says a new study published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Vitamin B refers to a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. One specific B vitamin, vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, is necessary for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine and for myelin formation. Vitamin B6 is important for healthy brain development and functioning. A deficiency of vitamin B6 can cause seizures in newborns.

In the study “Vitamin B6 Vitamer Concentrations in Cerebrospinal Fluid Differ Between Preterm and Term Newborn Infants,” researchers from the Department of Metabolic Diseases and Netherlands Metabolomics Center at the University Medical Center Utrecht in Utrecht, The Netherlands sought to determine whether the vitamin B6 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of preterm babies different from the levels in full term babies.

A total of 36 newborns, 26 premature and 10 full term, participated in the study. Premature was defined as being born prior to 37 weeks of gestation. Half of the newborns were female, and the other half were male. The youngest baby was born at 26 weeks, the oldest at 41 weeks 1 day.

After the newborns had been admitted to the NICU of the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands, cerebrospinal fluids were taken from a subcutaneous intraventricular reservoir. The vitamin B6 levels in the fluid samples were then determined by ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

Levels of vitamin B6 were at least twice as high in the premature babies as in the babies born at full term.

The researchers believe that the differences in levels of vitamin B6 in babies born prematurely versus babies born at term are indicative of an immaturity of the enzymatic system involved in vitamin B6 homeostasis at a lower gestational age. Furthermore, vitamin B6 reference values for older children are inappropriate for application in newborns because the gestational age of the baby must be taken into account.

The results of this study are important for the treatment of epilepsy and vitamin B6 deficiency in newborns. However, more research needs to be conducted on newborn vitamin B6 levels. As Nanda M. Verhoeven-Duif, PhD, of the Department of Metabolic Diseases, University Medical Center Utrecht and one of the authors of the study states in an exclusive comment to The Inquisitr:

“It [This study] is the first time that vitamin B6 is analysed in CSF of newborns. Obtaining CSF is of course only done for diagnostic or therapeutic reasons and we were really happy that we could use these samples for our studies. The results of the study are quite intriguing, why are these concentrations so different in preterm children compared to term children? In our ongoing research project we will try to shed more light on this question.”

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