Aim: To illustrate, via case histories, the importance of laboratory investigations for the early diagnosis and management of metabolic bone disease (MBD). Methods: We report three cases of extreme premature infants with MBD. Results: These three infants had several risk factors for MBD of prematurity: very low birthweight, delayed enteral feeds, cholestatic liver disease, intolerance of fortification, the use of glucocorticoids and diuretics. Serum alkaline phosphatase and parathyroid hormone (PTH) were elevated despite relatively normal calcium and phosphate levels. These parameters were corrected with additional supplementation of calcium, phosphate and vitamin D. Conclusions: Infants born extremely prematurely have significant calcium and phosphate depletion by the time they reach full term compared with the normal fetal accretion rate. This is exacerbated if there is poor tolerability to feeds where extra calcium and phosphate could not be added either by additives or via human milk fortifier. Serum calcium and phosphate levels may be normal despite inadequate intake or stores due to the counter-regulatory effect of PTH. In infants at risk of MBD, testing serum alkaline phosphatase, vitamin D and PTH with calcium and phosphate may assist in the monitoring and management of MBD.
- metabolic bone disease
- premature infants
- secondary hyperparathyroidism