Gastric emptying of different meal volumes of identical composition in preterm infants: a time series analysis

Sharon Lisa Perrella, Anna Rachel Hepworth, Zoya Gridneva, Karen Norrie Simmer, Peter Edwin Hartmann, Donna Tracy Geddes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Preterm infants' meals typically progress to higher volumes over time. Knowledge of gastric emptying (GE) responses to differing meal volumes may inform enteral feeding management. We examined the effect of meal volume and composition on preterm GE.Methods:Forty infants were studied at 33.3±1.4 (29.7-35.6) weeks postmenstrual age when fully enteral fed (target 150 ml/kg/day). Intraindividual comparisons of GE were made for paired meals of 100% and 75% prescribed volume and identical composition of mother's own milk (n=21) and pasteurized donor human milk (n=19). Serial stomach ultrasound images were used to calculate gastric residual volumes (GRVs) and remaining meal proportions (% meal).Results: GE was faster in the early postprandial period and slowed over time (p<0.001). Reduced volume meals had slower GE rates and lower GRV (p<0.001). Serial postprandial % meal were similar between reduced and full volume meals (p=0.41). Higher milk casein concentration was associated with slower GE (p=0.04). Complete gastric emptying (GRV = 0 mL) was more common in infants fed at 3 h intervals compared to those fed every 2 h (p=0.002). Conclusions: Early postprandial GE is more rapid in meals of larger volume. Stable preterm infants may tolerate feeding of a 3 h meal volume at shorter intervals. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-783
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
Early online date23 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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