Oral feeding practices and discharge timing for moderately preterm infants

Early Hum Dev. 2018 May;120:46-52. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2018.04.001. Epub 2018 Apr 11.


Background: Oral feeding skills of moderately preterm infants are not mature at birth.

Aims: To establish the relationship between postmenstrual age at introduction of first oral feeding and attainment of full oral feeding and hospital discharge for moderately preterm infants.

Study design: Multicenter retrospective analysis of a prospective cohort of moderately preterm infants admitted to a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network hospital.

Subjects: 6146 infants born at 29-33 weeks' gestation from January 2012 to November 2013.

Outcome measures: Postmenstrual age at full oral feeding and at hospital discharge.

Results: The median postmenstrual age at first oral feeding was 33.9 weeks (interquartile range 33.1-34.3). For each week earlier at first oral feeding, full oral feeding occurred 4.5 days earlier (p < 0.0001) and hospital stay was shortened by 3.4 days (p < 0.0001). Higher birth weight (p < 0.0001) and black maternal race (p = 0.0001) were associated with younger postmenstrual age at full oral feeding and at discharge.

Conclusion: Moderately preterm infants with earlier introduction of oral feeding achieved earlier full oral feeding and hospital discharge.

Keywords: Hospital discharge; moderately preterm infants; oral feeding; pulmonary disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Bottle Feeding*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Retrospective Studies