Providing enteral feeds to preterm very low birth-weight (VLBW) infants is critical to optimize nutrition, enhance growth, and reduce complications. Protocols guiding feeding practices can improve outcomes, but significant variation exists between institutions, which may limit their utility. To be most effective, protocols should be based on the best available evidence.
To examine the state of the science on several key components of feeding protocols for VLBW infants.
The authors searched PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE databases for terms related to feeding VLBW infants less than 32 weeks’ gestational age, including initiation of feedings, rate of feeding advancement, timing of human milk (HM) fortification, and feeding during blood transfusions, when diagnosed with a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and during medical treatment of PDA closure.
Initiation of feeds within the first 3 days of life and advancement by 30 mL/kg/d may decrease time to attain full feeds without increasing complications. Insufficient evidence guides optimal timing of HM fortification, as well as feeding infants undergoing blood transfusions, infants diagnosed with a PDA, and infants receiving medical treatment of PDA closure.
Implications for Practice:
Integration of existing research regarding feeding initiation and advancement into feeding protocols may improve outcomes. Infants at highest risk of feeding-related complications may benefit from a personalized feeding approach.
Implications for Research:
Additional research is needed to provide evidence concerning the optimal timing of HM fortification and feeding strategies for infants undergoing blood transfusions and those diagnosed with a PDA or receiving medical treatment of PDA closure to incorporate into evidence-based feeding protocols.
Ref: doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000849