Risk Factors Associated With Long-term Feeding Problems in Preterm Infants: A Scoping Review

Adv Neonatal Care. 2022 Apr 1;22(2):161-169. doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000864. Epub 2021 Mar 25.


Background: Infants who are born preterm are at a high risk of encountering feeding problems.

Purpose: The aim of this scoping review is to identify risk factors associated with feeding problems that persist beyond infancy in children (aged 1-6 years) who were born preterm (<37 weeks' gestation).

Methods: To perform this scoping review, the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses framework was applied. To be included in this study, articles had to be published in peer-reviewed journals, had an empirical study design, examined feeding problems relating to the child's feeding ability or refusal to eat certain texture of foods, and assessed risk factors (age, weight, and medical conditions) associated with long-term feeding problems in children who were born preterm.

Results: After abstract and full-text screening, a total of 9 articles meeting the inclusion criteria were included in this study. Findings from this study identified that gestational age and birth weight are significant risk factors and that sex, duration of mechanical ventilation, and length of tube feedings are potential risk factors.

Implications for practice: This study confirms that younger and smaller infants are at a high risk of encountering oral feeding difficulties and early interventions services should be focused on these preterm infants.

Implications for research: Evaluation of timing and intensity (dose) of early interventions strategies should be investigated to provide more targeted and effective interventions for younger and smaller preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Early Intervention, Educational*
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Risk Factors