Background: Because infant formulas containing hydrolyzed cow milk protein are used to reduce feeding intolerance and to improve gastric emptying, the effect on gastrointestinal motility of a hydrolysate formula was compared with that of a standard preterm formula.
Methods: Thirty-six preterm newborns with a gestational age of 32.2 +/- 2.3 weeks were assigned randomly to standard formula or hydrolyzed formula. Cutaneous electrogastrography and ultrasound examination of gastric emptying were performed simultaneously to evaluate gastrointestinal motility before and after the test meal. All recording sessions were performed 1 week after infants had reached full enteral feeding.
Results: No significant difference in gastrointestinal symptoms was noted in the newborns fed the different formulas. In particular, regurgitation and vomiting were observed in 78% versus 64% of preterm newborns after standard and hydrolyzed formula, respectively (Fisher exact test, not significant). No differences were found in terms of gastric electrical activity and gastric emptying time between the two groups.
Conclusions: It seems unnecessary to use hydrolysate formulas to improve motility in preterm infants.