e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Vitamin E supplementation for the prevention of morbidity and mortality in preterm infants

Every year, 15 million infants are born preterm (before 37 weeks), and this number is rising. Prematurity is the leading cause of infant death in the first 4 weeks of life and survival rates are very low in low-income settings.

Vitamin E is important for the health and well-being of preterm neonates. It is present at higher than usual levels in the breast milk of mothers who have given birth prematurely, and may be able to prevent or limit some of the health problems associated with preterm birth, such as anaemia due to haemorrhaging.

Studies have shown that giving vitamin E supplements to preterm infants can provide some benefits, but may also increase the risk of life-threatening infections, such as sepsis. Current evidence, therefore, does not support high-dose vitamin E supplementation to preterm infants.

WHO recommendations

Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available



Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

12 May 2017 14:53 CEST

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee


There is not yet any implementation information related to this intervention in GINA