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AIMS OF STUDY: Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is an amino acid polypeptide that has been shown to promote mucosal healing and intestinal growth in experimental models and has a potential role in the aetiology and treatment of NEC. The aim of this study was to determine the normal levels of salivary EGF in a cohort of healthy neonatal infants. MATERIAL AND METHODS: With appropriate ethical approval and informed consent, saliva was collected using a suction catheter from all normal neonatal infants admitted to our unit over a 9-month period. The samples were immediately frozen at - 20 degrees C and analysed using an ELISA assay (R & D Systems, Oxford, UK). Samples taken a week prior to and two weeks following a septic episode (as diagnosed by clinical or biochemical evidence) were excluded. Patients with congenital malformations and chromosomal anomalies were excluded. RESULTS: A total of 65 samples were collected and analysed from 27 babies. The mean gestation and weight of the patients was 32.2 (+/- 5.50) weeks and 1954.44 (+/- 1045.7) grams, respectively. Five samples from 2 infants were discarded. None of the patients in whom the samples were analysed had clinical or serum markers of sepsis or NEC. All infants were given maternal breast milk starting at the mean age of 5 (+/- 3.47) days. The mean EGF values were 676.95 (+/- 168.47) pg/ml. There was a significant rise in serial salivary EGF values in patients (p = 0.0019). There was no correlation between the EGF values and gestation (R = 0.35, p = 0.08). The birth weight, sex or timing of initiating enteral feeds did not correlate with EGF values. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, our study shows a rise in salivary EGF values in serial samples in a clearly defined group of healthy infants.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Pediatr Surg

Publication Date





245 - 248


Epidermal Growth Factor, Female, Gestational Age, Humans, Male, Prospective Studies, Saliva