Retinopathy of Prematurity
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye in a premature infant (PubMed Health 2011). A study assessed retinopathy in 60 oxygen-treated, premature infants and their mothers. All 60 infants showed signs of acute oxidative stress. Concentrations of methionine-cysteine in plasma and selenium in blood were significantly lower in premature infants with moderate retinopathy than oxygen-treated premature infants without retinopathy. Mothers of premature infants with retinopathy showed the same pattern of deficiencies as their babies. Vitamin E treatment of premature infants seemed to have a positive effect against the development of ROP (Papp 1997).
The close correlation between antioxidant capacity of mothers and babies suggests that supplementation with sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine, cysteine) and folic acid during pregnancy might improve the antioxidant capacity of premature infants. An antioxidant cocktail of selenium plus vitamin E given to high-risk mothers (high risk factors include advanced age, smoking, and pregnancy-induced hypertension) before delivery might be useful in the prevention of retinopathy in premature infants (Papp 1997).