Background: Emerging evidence suggests intakes of protein and energy as early as the first week of life in preterm very low birth weight (VLBW) infants are associated with improved neurodevelopment. In response, many neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have launched new, more aggressive early feeding guidelines. The aim of this study was to evaluate enteral and parenteral energy and macronutrient intakes during the first postnatal week in VLBW infants admitted to NICUs that have introduced more aggressive early feeding guidelines.
Materials and methods: Estimated energy and macronutrient intakes were prospectively collected from VLBW infants fed exclusively mother's own milk and/or parenteral nutrition and compared with expert recommendations. Days to reach full enteral feeds (150 mL/kg/d) and discharge anthropometrics were examined.
Results: By days 6 and 7, median protein and lipid intakes, respectively, reached recommended values (3.5 and 3.0 g/kg/d). However, by day 8, many infants remained below recommended intakes for protein (34%), lipid (34%), carbohydrate (68%), and energy (71%). Late-onset sepsis was associated with a decreased likelihood of reaching full enteral feeds on any given day (hazard ratio, 0.2; 95% confidence interval, 0.1-0.5; P ≤ .0009). There was no significant relationship between week 1 nutrient intakes and anthropometrics at discharge.
Conclusion: Despite the introduction of more aggressive early feeding guidelines and improved energy and nutrient intakes compared with literature values, many VLBW infants remain below recommended nutrition goals in the first week.
Keywords: energy; enteral nutrition; lipids; macronutrients; parenteral nutrition; protein.