Significant variations in nutritional supplementation amongst neonates in the United Kingdom

World J Clin Pediatr. 2016 Aug 8;5(3):325-9. doi: 10.5409/wjcp.v5.i3.325.


Aim: To ascertain United Kingdom adherence to European society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition guidance (ESPGHAN).

Methods: A national cross sectional questionnaire study of neonatal units across England was completed between January and March 2014. All 174 units in the country were attempted to be contacted to complete a telephone survey. This included all level 1, 2 and 3 units. They were initially contacted by phone and asking any senior member of the team about their current practice and procedures. The first ten telephone interviews were completed with two researchers present to ensure consistency of approach. If no response was received or no details were available, one further attempt was made to contact the unit. The results were recorded in a proforma and then collated and entered into a spreadsheet for analysis. Comparison to United Kingdom adherence to ESPGHAN guidance was completed.

Results: Response rate was 53%. There was variation in use of all supplements. The survey collected data from 91 neonatal units (53% response rate). It was found that 10% of neonatal units had no fixed policy on supplements. The protocols regarding supplementation involved predominantly folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron, with much variation in doses and regimens. The criteria for prescribing supplements was largely based on age (47%) with only 7% using a weight targets to initiate supplements. Summary data regarding the appropriateness of each nutritional supplement for a variety of different weights are presented, as well as comparison to ESPGHAN guidance which suggests issues with both underdoing of Breast Fed infants and overdosing of infants on several artificial formulas which already contain significant amounts of these nutritional elements.

Conclusion: There is significant heterogeneity in neonatal policies when prescribing supplements to neonates. National policies which take international guidance into account are recommended.

Keywords: Iron; Neonatal; Nutritional additives; Preterm nutrition; Term nutrition.