Role of trace elements in parenteral nutrition support of the surgical neonate

Sathyaprasad C. Burjonrappa, Malki Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: Parenteral nutrition (PN) has transformed the outcome for neonates with surgical problems in the intensive care unit. Trace element supplementation in PN is a standard practice in many neonatal intensive care units. However, many of these elements are contaminants in PN solutions, and contamination levels may, in themselves, be sufficient for normal metabolic needs. Additional supplementation may actually lead to toxicity in neonates whose requirements are small. Methods: An electronic search of the MEDLINE, Cochrane Collaboration, and SCOPUS English language medical databases was performed for the key words "trace elements," "micro-nutrients, " and "parenteral nutrition additives." Studies were categorized based on levels of evidence offered, with randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses accorded the greatest importance at the apex of the data pool and case reports and animal experiments the least importance. Articles were reviewed with the primary goal of developing uniform recommendations for trace element supplementation in the surgical neonate. The secondary goals were to review the physiologic role, metabolic demands, requirements, losses, deficiency syndromes, and toxicity symptoms associated with zinc, copper, chromium, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum supplementation in PN. Results: Zinc supplementation must begin at initiation of PN. All other trace elements can be added to PN 2 to 4 weeks after initiation. Copper and manganese need to be withheld if the neonate develops PN-associated liver disease. The status of chromium supplementation is currently being actively debated, with contaminant levels in PN being sufficient in most cases to meet neonatal requirements. Selenium is an important component of antioxidant enzymes with a role in the pathogenesis of neonatal surgical conditions such as necrotizing enterocolitis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Premature infants are often selenium deficient, and early supplementation has shown a reduction in sepsis events in this age group. Conclusion: Appropriate supplementation of trace elements in surgical infants is important, and levels should be monitored. In certain settings, it may be more appropriate to individualize trace element supplementation based on the predetermined physiologic need rather than using bundled packages of trace elements as is the current norm. Balance studies of trace element requirements should be performed to better establish clinical recommendations for optimal trace element dosing in the neonatal surgical population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)760-771
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Total parenteral nutrition (TPN)
  • Trace elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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