Objective: To assess whether breastmilk feeding is associated with a reduced risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Secondary outcome measures analyzed were retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Study design: In an ongoing multicenter cohort study, the data of 1433 very low birth weight infants born before 32 weeks of gestation and discharged in 2013 were analyzed. We compared growth and neonatal complications of infants who received breastmilk exclusively (N = 223) with those who received formula feedings exclusively (N = 239). Logistic regression models were estimated for BPD, ROP, and NEC using nutrition as an independent variable. The Firth logistic regression model and Lasso were used for sensitivity analyses.
Results: Exclusively breastmilk-fed infants gained less weight compared with formula-fed infants. SDS for weight decreased between birth and discharge (median (Q1-Q3): formula -0.9 (-1.4 to [-0.5]) vs breastmilk -1.1 (-1.7 to [-0.6])). Exclusive formula feeding of very low birth weight infants was associated with increased risks of BPD (OR 2.6) as well as NEC (OR 12.6) and ROP (OR 1.80) after controlling for known risk factors.
Conclusions: Exclusive breastmilk feeding was associated with lower growth rates and a reduced risk of BPD as well as NEC and ROP.
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