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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 for several reasons:

They have low nutrient stores because they missed the surge in nutrient deposition that normally occurs during the last trimester.

They are susceptible to medical problems including infection, respiratory disorders, hypoxia, acidosis, and surgery, which increase the infant's metabolic energy requirements and nutrient needs [1]. Certain therapies such as glucocorticoids specifically impair growth.

Their gastrointestinal tract is physiologically immature with decreased gastrointestinal motility and reduced intestinal enzyme activity.

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: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 25, 2017.
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