Objective: At hospital discharge, preterm infants may have low body stores of nutrients, deficient bone mineralization, and an accumulated energy deficit. This double-blind, randomized study evaluated the growth of premature infants with birth weights <1800 g who were fed a 22 kcal/fl oz nutrient-enriched postdischarge formula (PDF) or a 20 kcal/fl oz term-infant formula (TF) from hospital discharge to 12 months' corrected age (CA).
Methods: Infants were randomized to PDF or TF a few days before hospital discharge with stratification by gender and birth weight (<1250 g or >/=1250 g). The formulas were fed to 12 months' CA. Growth was evaluated using analysis of variance controlling for site, feeding, gender, and birth weight group. Interaction effects were also assessed. Secondary analyses included a repeated measures analysis and growth modeling.
Results: One hundred twenty-five infants were randomized; 74 completed to 6 months' CA and 53 to 12 months' CA. PDF-fed infants weighed more than TF-fed infants at 1 and 2 months' CA, gained more weight from study day 1 to 1 and 2 months' CA, and were longer at 3 months' CA. There were significant interactions between feeding and birth weight group-among infants with birth weights <1250 g, those fed PDF weighed more at 6 months' CA, were longer at 6 months' CA, had larger head circumferences at term 1, 3, 6, and 12 months' CA, and gained more in head circumference from study day 1 to term and to 1 month CA. The repeated measures and growth modeling analyses confirmed the analysis of variance results. The PDF formula seemed to be of particular benefit for the growth of male infants. Infants fed the PDF consumed less formula and had higher protein intakes at several time points. Energy intakes, however, were not different.
Conclusions: Growth was improved in preterm infants fed a nutrient-enriched postdischarge formula after hospital discharge to 12 months' CA. Beneficial effects were most evident among infants with birth weights <1250 g, particularly for head circumference measurements.