Prematurity: Risk for Poor Bone Growth

During normal term pregnancy, the assimilation of calcium and phosphorous occurs at a high rate during the last trimester. After birth, calcium absorbed from human milk provides only a fraction of the calcium that would have been supplied to the infant were he/she still in utero. Therefore, premature infants are at special risk for bone disease due to inadequate intake and assimilation of calcium. Infants under 1000 grams at birth or 28 week's gestation are at particular risk for osteopenia of prematurity, or bone mineral content significantly below that of expected mineralization for a fetus or infant of comparable size and gestational age. Several commercial mineral supplements for human milk-fed infants are available to human infants to optimize bone mineralization in this vulnerable population.