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Human milk feeding and fortification of human milk for premature infants

Richard J Schanler, MD
Section Editor
Steven A Abrams, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Premature infants have greater nutritional needs to achieve optimal growth in the neonatal period than at any other time of their life. There are several reasons for this:

Infants born at the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy have lower nutrient stores because they missed the surge in nutrient deposition characteristic of the last trimester.

Medical conditions including infection, respiratory disorders, hypoxia, acidosis, and surgery increase metabolic energy requirements and thus nutrient needs [1].

Additional impediments to growth are physiologic immaturity of the gastrointestinal tract including decreased gastrointestinal motility and reduced intestinal enzyme activity, and therapies such as corticosteroids.

Nutritional support helps to correct growth restriction at birth and to achieve an appropriate rate of weight gain, which is almost twice that of a term infant [2,3]. Parenteral nutrition is necessary for infants whose immaturity or medical condition precludes enteral feeding.


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jun 29, 2016.
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