Open Access Research

Maturation of gastric electrical activity, gastric emptying and intestinal permeability in preterm newborns during the first month of life

Giuseppe Riezzo1, Flavia Indrio2*, Francesco Raimondi3, Osvaldo Montagna2, Gennaro Salvia4, Bisceglia Massimo5, Lorenzo Polimeno6, Luciano Cavallo2 and Ruggiero Francavilla2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Experimental Pathophysiology, National Institute for Digestive Diseases IRCCS, Saverio de Bellis, 70013 Castellana Grotte, Bari, Italy

2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Bari Policlinico, Piazza G Cesare, 70124, Bari, Italy

3 Department of Pediatrics, University Federico II Policlinico, Via S Pansini 12, 80100, Naples Italy

4 Department of Pediatrics, Ospedale Fatebenefratelli, 80100, Naples, Italy

5 Department of Pediatrics, Ospedale Sangiovanni di Dio, 21009, Crotone, Italy

6 Department of Organ Transplantation, Division of Gastroenterology, 70124 University of Bari Policlinico, Piazza G. Cesare, Bari, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

Italian Journal of Pediatrics 2009, 35:6  doi:10.1186/1824-7288-35-6

Published: 15 March 2009

Abstract

Introduction

Immaturity of motility, intestinal epithelial barrier function and absorptive capacity may play a role in the pathophysiology of intestinal diseases in preterms. We determined the gastric electrical activity and emptying, and intestinal permeability, in preterm newborns to verify if a maturation pattern exists in preterm newborns during the first month of life.

Patients and methods

Eighteen preterm newborns (median 34 wks, range 2 wks) completed the study. They underwent the recording of gastric electrical activity by means of cutaneous electrogastrography, the ultrasound examination of gastric emptying, and the lactulose-to-mannitol ratio from permeability-absorption test on days 3, 7, 15, and 30 after birth.

Results

Gastric electrical activity and emptying showed only slight changes between day 3 and day 7. On the contrary, an evident maturation in permeability, expressed as L/Mratio, was evident over time (Friedman Repeated Measures Analysis, p = 0.004).

Conclusion

In preterm healthy newborns of 34 weeks gestational age, electrical and motor activity are completely developed at birth whilst the intestinal epithelial barrier clearly improves during the first week of life.