Enteral feeding of neonates with congenital heart disease

Neonatology. 2010;98(4):330-6. doi: 10.1159/000285706. Epub 2010 May 7.


Background: Despite their putative impact on post-operative outcomes, there is paucity of data on enteral feeding practices of neonates with congenital heart disease (CHD).

Objectives: To examine feeding patterns among neonates with CHD before and after surgical repair and determine the incidence of and to identify risk factors associated with feeding-related morbidities.

Methods: Retrospective data review of neonates with CHD who underwent surgical repair within the first month of life. SPSS software (version 17) was used for analyses and p < 0.05 taken as significant.

Results: The median (range) gestational age of our cohort (n = 67) was 39 weeks (32-41) and birth weight 3,100 g (1,615-4,280). Ductal-dependent lesions were diagnosed in 52 infants (77.6%). Prior to surgery, feedings were initiated in 62 infants (92.5%) at a median age of 2.5 days (1-18); 100 ml/kg daily intake was achieved in 47 infants (70.1%) at 5 days (1-20) and full feeds in 22 infants (32.8%). Postoperative enteral feeds were started 3 days (1-20) after surgery in 66 infants (98.5%) and intake of 100 ml/kg/day was reached in 64 infants at 5 postoperative days (1-29). Four infants (5.9%) died; 27 (40.3%) were on at least partial gavage feedings at the time of discharge home. NEC was diagnosed in 2 infants. On regression analysis, cardiopulmonary bypass (p = 0.024) and age at which full feeds were attained prior to surgery (p = 0.039) were significantly associated with death and/or gavage at discharge.

Conclusions: The majority of infants with CHD achieve moderate enteral intake prior to surgery, even while on prostaglandins. Despite this and the early initiation of postoperative enteral feeds, many infants need gavage feeds at discharge. Evidence-based feeding strategies for this high-risk population are critical to improving outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult