Purpose of review: The impact of neonatal nutrition on the health status of the newborn and incidence of disease in later life is a topic of intense interest. Animal models are an invaluable tool to identify mechanisms that mediate the effect of nutrition on neonatal development and metabolic function. This review highlights recently developed animal models that are being used to study neonatal human nutrition.
Recent findings: In recent years, mice, rats, and pigs have become the most frequently used animal models to study human neonatal nutrition. Techniques for rearing newborn mice, preterm rats, and preterm pigs have been developed. Neonatal mice have great potential for mechanistic and genomic research in postnatal nutrition and related diseases. The neonatal pig model is valuable to study acute and chronic effects of parenteral and enteral nutrition on whole-body metabolism as well as specific tissues. To date, a wealth of information from studies with neonatal pigs has been applied to humans.
Summary: Further development of neonatal animal models related to nutrition is required for the advancement of research in early postnatal nutrition. Improvement of nutritional support during this critical period of development will enhance immediate clinical outcomes and possibly prevent diseases later in life.