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AIM: To characterise parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentrations in infants at high risk for metabolic bone disease, in order to assist clinical decisions around the use of PTH for screening. METHODS: Infants born under 28 weeks' postmenstrual age or with birthweight under 1.5 kg in a tertiary neonatal unit in the UK were included. Clinical guidance was to assess PTH concentration in the first 3 weeks after birth. Clinical information was extracted from prospective records. RESULTS: Sixty-four infants had mean birth gestation of 26 weeks and birthweight of 882 g. Median PTH (sent on median day 18 of life) was 9.2 pmol/L (interquartile range 5.3-17 pmol/L). Sixty-seven per cent of infants had a PTH greater than 7 pmol/L. For 22% of the infants, raised PTH was not accompanied by abnormal phosphate or alkaline phosphatase. Eighty-nine per cent of infants tested were insufficient or deficient for 25-hydroxyvitamin D. CONCLUSIONS: Universal screening highlights the high frequency of high PTH in this high-risk population, implying a need for calcium supplementation. A considerable number of infants would not be identified as showing potential signs of metabolic bone disease if the assessment excludes the use of PTH. The high level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency may be a confounder.

Original publication




Journal article


J Paediatr Child Health

Publication Date



biochemistry, endocrinology, intensive care units, neonatal, micronutrients, neonatology