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Aluminum Exposure from Intravenous Feeding Solutions May Be Associated with Future Bone Loss

10/26/2009  

Humans are exposed to aluminum from a variety of sources, including drinking water, infant formula, breast milk and some medications. Preterm infants who receive intravenous feeding solutions with aluminum, often to ensure their survival, may have reduced lumbar spine and hip bone mass in adolescence. In addition, these children also may face a potential risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures as adults.

In a British study, “Aluminum Exposure From Parenteral Nutrition in Preterm Infants: Bone Health at 15-Year Follow-up,” researchers looked at the long-term effects of intravenous feeding solutions which contain a significant amount of aluminum. In the study, researchers followed up with 59 adolescents, ages 13 to 15, who had received intravenous feeding solutions as infants. Half the group had received aluminum-depleted nutritional solution as a pre-term infant, and the others received a standard intravenous solution containing aluminum. Children who received the standard solution had lower lumbar spine bone mass, while those who received more than 55 micrograms per kg (the threshold level for aluminum intake) had lower hip bone mass as adolescents.

The study authors recommend greater focus on reducing aluminum in intravenous feeding solutions for preterm infants, as well as additional research to more definitively assess the long-term effects of early aluminum exposure. The authors also cautioned that the adverse effects from preterm infants not having intravenous nutrition may likely outweigh any potential detrimental effect from the aluminum.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.