via San Andrea 32, 56127 Pisa, Italy.


Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is a potent and natural antioxidant. Vitamin E is concentrated from soybean oil. The Committee on Fetus and Newborn of the Academy of the American of Pediatrics endorsed 1 to 2 mg/dl as the normal range of serum tocopherol level. Human infants are born with low stores of vitamin E, thus they require an adequate intake of vitamin E soon after birth. The optimum intravenous dose of vitamin E is 2.8 mg/kg per day (maximum 7 mg/kg per day). Treating very-low-birth-weight infants with 100 mg/kg vitamin E for >1 week results in levels >3.5 mg/dl and significantly reduces the risks of severe retinopathy, intracranial hemorrhage, hemolytic anemia, chronic lung disease, retrolental fibroplasia and incidence and severity of intraventricular hemorrhage, but increases the risks of sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis and can cause retinal hemorrhage in very-low-birth-weight infants. Vitamin E supplementation prevents the isolated vitamin E deficiency that causes spinocerebellar symptoms. The major benefits arising from elevated dosages of vitamin E have been the relief of symptoms of vitamin E deficiency in infants with abetalipoproteinamia and chronic cholestasis. Excessive doses of vitamin E may result in side effects and careful monitoring of vitamin E is thus essential. Neonates born to mothers treated with high doses of vitamin E have significantly lower birth weight compared to neonates born to untreated mothers. Vitamin E is not teratogenic. The aim of this study was to review the effects of vitamin E in neonates and young infants.