Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Protective effect of vitamin E (DL-alpha-tocopherol) against intraventricular haemorrhage in premature babies.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 09 July 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:81

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. M L Chiswick,
  2. M Johnson,
  3. C Woodhall,
  4. M Gowland,
  5. J Davies,
  6. N Toner,
  7. D G Sims


    Forty four babies, of less than 32 weeks' gestation, were either randomly given 25 mg/kg vitamin E (DL-alpha-tocopherol acetate) intramuscularly after birth (day 0) and on days 1, 2, and 3 or served as controls. Frequent real time ultrasound examinations of the brain were made in each baby during the first week and less frequently thereafter. In babies under 32 weeks' gestation the incidence of intraventricular haemorrhage was lower in supplemented babies (18.8%) compared with the controls (56.3%). On days 0, 1, 2, and 3 median plasma vitamin E concentrations in babies without haemorrhage and in those with subependymal haemorrhage only were similar. Babies with intraventricular haemorrhage had lower median concentrations on day 1 (p less than 0.002) and day 2 (p less than 0.05) compared with those with subependymal haemorrhage and lower concentrations on day 0 (p less than 0.02) and day 1 (p less than 0.05) compared with those without haemorrhage. These findings suggest that in premature babies vitamin E, an antioxidant, protects endothelial cell membranes from oxidative damage and disruption and limits the magnitude of haemorrhage and its spread from the subependyma into the ventricles.