Extremely low birthweight infants: how neonatal intensive care unit teams can reduce postnatal malnutrition and prevent growth retardation

Acta Paediatr. 2013 Mar;102(3):242-8. doi: 10.1111/apa.12092. Epub 2012 Dec 27.


Aim: To evaluate the impact of an improved nutritional policy for extremely low birthweight (ELBW) infants on nutritional deficits and postnatal growth.

Method: We compared two groups of 37 ELBW infants, born before and after the introduction of an improved nutritional policy in April 2006. Group A (born 2005 to early 2006) and group B (born 2009) stayed in a French neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for at least 7 weeks. Optimal energy and protein intakes were 120 and 3.5 g/kg/day, respectively, and used to calculate cumulative deficits. Delta z-scores for weight, length and head circumference were calculated between birth and 36 weeks of postmenstrual age (PMA). The improved nutritional policy focused on earlier and higher parenteral intake of lipids and proteins, earlier and higher human milk fortification and earlier transition to preterm formula.

Results: The two groups did not differ in gestational age and birthweight. However, protein and energy deficits were significantly reduced in group B. Between birth and 36 weeks of PMA, delta z-scores were significantly reduced for length (p = 0.012) but not for weight (p = 0.09) or head circumference (p = 0.83).

Conclusion: Higher parenteral intake and close attention to enteral feeding reduced nutritional deficits and linear growth restriction in infants admitted to a French NICU.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • France
  • Growth Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal*
  • Male
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Support*
  • Retrospective Studies