Gastrointestinal maturation and implications for infant feeding

Early Hum Dev. 2007 Dec;83(12):767-75. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2007.09.009. Epub 2007 Oct 29.


The level of gastrointestinal (GI) maturity of an individual infant is a major determinant of whether the infant will be able to meet nutritional needs by sole use of the GI tract or if parenteral means will be necessary. The GI tract is not only an organ for digestion and absorption of nutrients; it also performs major endocrine, neural and immunologic functions. In this review, anatomic, functional and biochemical development will be described and related to means by which enteral nutrition can be used in the prematurely born infant to optimize health and prevent disease.

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Tract / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*