Gastrostomy Tube Feeding in Extremely Low Birthweight Infants: Frequency, Associated Comorbidities, and Long-term Outcomes

J Pediatr. 2019 Nov;214:41-46.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.06.066. Epub 2019 Aug 16.


Objective: To assess the frequency of gastrostomy tube (GT) placement in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, associated comorbidities, and long-term outcomes.

Study design: Analysis of ELBW infants from 25 centers enrolled in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network's Generic Database and Follow-up Registry from 2006 to 2012. Frequency of GT placement before 18-22 months, demographic and medical factors associated with GT placement, and associated long-term outcomes at 18-22 months of corrected age were described. Associations between GT placement and neonatal morbidities and long-term outcomes were assessed with logistic regression after adjustment for center and common co-variables.

Results: Of the 4549 ELBW infants included in these analyses, 333 (7.3%) underwent GT placement; 76% had the GT placed postdischarge. Of infants with GTs, 11% had birth weights small for gestational age, 77% had bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and 29% severe intraventricular hemorrhage or periventricular leukomalacia. At follow-up, 56% of infants with a GT had weight <10th percentile, 61% had neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI), and 55% had chronic breathing problems. After adjustment, small for gestational age, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, intraventricular hemorrhage/periventricular leukomalacia, poor growth, and NDI were associated with GT placement. Thirty-two percent of infants with GTs placed were taking full oral feeds at follow-up.

Conclusions: GT placement is common in ELBW infants, particularly among those with severe neonatal morbidities. GT placement in this population was associated with poor growth, NDI, and chronic respiratory and feeding problems at follow-up. The frequency of GT placement postneonatal discharge indicates the need for close nutritional follow-up of ELBW infants.

Trial registration: NCT00063063.

Keywords: Bayley Scales of Infant development; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; cognitive delay; development; dysfunctional feeding; dysphagia; feeding difficulty; follow up; growth; language delay; nasogastric tube; neonatal; neurodevelopmental impairment; patent ductus arteriosus; periventricular leukomalacia; severe intraventricular hemorrhage; small for gestational age; supplemental feeding.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child Development
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods
  • Enteral Nutrition / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrostomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology

Associated data


Grant support