Objective: To evaluate whether a high energy, high-protein, MCT-containing formula (HPMCT) is as appropriate as a post-discharge formula (PDF) for feeding preterm infants after hospital discharge by comparing growth, adverse effects, and cost per gram of bodyweight gain.
Material and method: The present study was a randomized controlled trial. The calculated sample size was 20 infants for each intervention group. After the consent procedure, preterm infants who had postconceptional age (PCA) 35⁺¹ to 36⁺⁰ weeks and weight between 1,800 and 3,000 g at hospital discharge were randomly enrolled to receive either PDF or HPMCT starting from the discharge day. Intervention period lasted at least 28 days and until the infant's weight was at least 3,000 g or PCA was at least 40⁺⁰ weeks. Body weight, length, and head circumference were measured on days 0, 14, 28, 56, and 84 after hospital discharge. Formula intakes and adverse symptoms (abdominal distension, diarrhea, and constipation) were recorded by parents before each visit in diaries provided by the study group. Cost was calculated from estimated actual formula intakes.
Results: There were six and five infants enrolled into PDF and HPMCT group, respectively. Demographic data were not different between the two groups. There were no significant differences of growth rates in both groups at days 28, 56, and 84 after hospital discharge. Adverse effects and costs were not different either.
Conclusion: PDF and HPMCT might be comparably appropriate for feeding catching-up preterm infants after hospital discharge, as noted from growth rates, adverse effects, and costs. However, further studies involving biochemical and neurodevelopmental evaluation, with long-term follow-up in larger populations are needed to clearly compare both formulas.