Growth and nutrition after discharge

Semin Neonatol. 2003 Apr;8(2):169-76. doi: 10.1016/S1084-2756(02)00141-0.


Preterm infants are frequently discharged from hospital growth retarded and show reduced growth during childhood. However, nutrition during the post-discharge period has been neglected. Randomized trials show growth benefits, particularly in boys, when nutrient-enriched diets (preterm formula or post-discharge formula) rather than term formula are fed after discharge, with effects persisting beyond the intervention period. These findings suggest that post-discharge period may be a critical time for influencing the growth trajectory, but further research is required to investigate longer-term effects on growth, health and development. Preterm infants who are breast-fed after discharge show slower weight and length gain and lower bone mass than formula-fed infants. Further studies should establish whether differences persist or have long-term consequences, and clarify whether such infants would benefit from post-discharge nutritional supplementation. The introduction of solids may have a significant effect on growth and nutritional status, but insufficient data are currently available for evidence-based guidelines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified / standards
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Growth Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant Formula / standards
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age / growth & development
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight / growth & development
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors