Objectives: Poor weight gain during the first weeks of life in preterm infants is associated with the risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Our study aimed to evaluate the effect of energy, macronutrient intake, and weight gain during the first 4 weeks of life on the risk of ROP.

Methods: This study was designed as a single-center, retrospective, and case-control trial. Premature babies, born before the 30th week of gestation, were included in our study. The infants were divided into three groups: control (without ROP), mild ROP, and severe ROP groups. Possible nutritional risk factors for ROP were compared.

Results: ROP was found in 32 (29.5%) of 108 infants included in this study. The first enteral feeding day, full enteral feeding day, and total duration of parenteral nutrition were significantly higher in infants with level 3-4 ROP than the others (p <0.05). The risk of severe ROP increased in infants who gained less than 8 g/day and who received less than 91 kcal/kg of calories (p <0.05). It was found that infants with severe ROP received statistically (p <0.05) less breast milk, but there was no difference in formula intake (p >0.05).

Conclusions: We showed that low energy intake during the first 4 weeks of life is an independent risk factor for severe ROP. This implies that the provision of adequate energy from parenteral and enteral sources during the first 4 weeks of life may be an effective method to reduce the risk of severe ROP in preterm infants.

Keywords: Retinopathy of prematurity, total parenteral nutrition, weight gain, premature

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