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Resonance Raman Spectroscopy and the Preterm Infant Carotenoid Status

Chan, Gary M.*; Chan, Melissa M.*; Gellermann, Werner; Ermakov, Igor; Ermakova, Maia; Bhosale, Prakash; Bernstein, Paul; Rau, Carrie*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: May 2013 - Volume 56 - Issue 5 - p 556–559
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e318282a8fe
Original Articles: Hepatology and Nutrition

Objective: The aim of the study was to validate the noninvasive resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS) method in infants in comparison with the high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method, and to evaluate the carotenoid status in preterm infants fed with mother's milk or formula.

Methods: In the first phase of the study, resonance Raman measurements were made on male term infants’ skin and correlated with tissue harvested at the time of circumcision. Each baby's foreskin was weighed, enzymatically digested, and the total carotenoids were extracted and quantitated by the HPLC. Next, to evaluate the carotenoid status of preterm infants (BW <1500 g), the skin and serum carotenoids in infants fed with either human milk or preterm formula were studied from the start of feedings and every 2 weeks until hospital discharge. Skin carotenoids were measured by RRS and the serum total carotenoids by HPLC.

Results: Foreskin carotenoid levels measured by RRS correlated with HPLC measurements of total serum carotenoids (R = 0.52, P < 0.01, n = 16). Forty preterm infants were studied for their carotenoid status. Thirty-two infants were fed mother's milk, whereas 8 were fed a preterm infant formula that was not enriched with carotenoids. The gestation and birth weight of the 2 feeding groups were similar. The infants fed human milk had a higher serum total carotenoid concentration and skin Raman counts than formula-fed infants. The skin Raman counts and total serum carotenoid correlated (R = 0.44, P = 0.01). The human milk–fed infants’ serum total carotenoid concentrations and Raman values did not change during the study period; however, the formula-fed group's total serum and skin carotenoid decreased significantly during the study.

Conclusions: RRS of infant's skin reliably assesses total carotenoid status noninvasively. Human milk–fed preterm infants have higher serum and skin carotenoids than formula-fed infants suggesting that formula-fed infants may benefit from carotenoid supplementation.

*Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, University of Utah Health Science Center, Salt Lake City, UT.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gary M. Chan, MD, PO Box 581289, Division of Neonatology, University of Utah Health Science Center, Salt Lake City, UT 84158 (e-mail: gchan@hsc.utah.ed).

Received 13 July, 2012

Accepted 11 December, 2012

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,