Improved nutrition for extremely preterm infants - A population based observational study

Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2018 Feb:23:245-251. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2017.09.004. Epub 2017 Oct 10.


Background and aims: Extremely preterm (EPT) infants are at high risk for malnutrition due to immaturity and medical complications and they often accumulate nutritional deficits and experience growth faltering during treatment at neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Enhanced intake of energy and protein during the first weeks of life improves weight gain and head circumference growth. The optimal nutritional strategy for these infants' health and long-term development remains unknown. Nutritional regiments have been identified as a potential area for improvement in Swedish NICUs. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in nutritional intake over time during the first 56 postnatal days in EPT (<27 gestational weeks; n = 316) infants, who were treated in NICUs during 2004-2011 in Stockholm, using a population-based study approach.

Methods: Several different nutritional interventions were implemented over the 8-year period. Nutrition and growth data were obtained retrospectively from hospital records. All intakes of enteral and parenteral nutrients were retrieved daily during the first 28 postnatal days and on days 35, 42, 49 and 56.

Results: Energy intake (median) increased from 77 kcal/kg/d during the 2004-2005 period to 98 kcal/kg/d during the 2010-2011 period on days 4-6. Median protein intake increased from 2.4 g/kg/d during 2004-2005 to 3.6 g/kg/d during 2010-2011. Energy and protein intake during postnatal days 0-6 increased continuously over the 8 years and protein intake increased during all 56 postnatal days. Full enteral feeds were reached earlier and the proportion of enteral feeds during the first week was higher during 2008-2009 compared to all other years. A significant improvement in growth was primarily noted by comparing the 2004-2005 period to subsequent years.

Conclusions: Neonatal nutrition improved significantly in Stockholm from 2004 to 2011. Above all, parenteral nutrition was initiated more promptly during the first week and was provided at higher quantities. However, many of the EPT infants born during the later years still did not reach the recommended macronutrient intake levels. A significant weight gain improvement was observed between 2004-2005 and 2006-2011.

Keywords: Energy; Enteral nutrition; Parenteral nutrition; Preterm infant; Protein.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Diet
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Extremely Premature / growth & development*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Dietary Proteins