Impact of feeding difficulties in the NICU on neurodevelopmental outcomes at 8 and 20 months corrected age in extremely low gestational age infants

J Perinatol. 2019 Sep;39(9):1241-1248. doi: 10.1038/s41372-019-0428-4. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


Objective: The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between neonatal risk factors and feeding difficulties (FDs) in the NICU and the impact of FD on neurodevelopmental (ND) outcome in ELGA infants.

Study design: Two hundred and eighteen ELGA infants (59 FDs and 159 no-FDs) were compared for neonatal morbidities, feeding milestones, and Bayley-III scores at 8 and 20 mo CA. Multiple regression analyses adjusted for the effect of risk factors on FD and ND outcome.

Results: Twenty-seven percent of infants had FD. Postmenstrual age (PMA) at start of oral feeds was the only predictor of FD. At 8 mo CA, FD was the strongest predictor of cognitive <85 (p = 0.018) and motor index <70 (p = 0.019). In linear regression, PMA at start of oral feeds was the only predictor of 8 mo cognitive and motor index (p = 0.006). FD did not predict ND outcome at 20 months CA.

Conclusions: FDs are common in ELGA infants and are associated with worse cognitive and motor outcomes in the first year of life.

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors