OBJECTIVE: A systematic review (2005) of observational studies has reported 87% reduction in the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after introducing standardized feeding regimen (SFR) in preterm infants. Considering the many new studies in this field since 2005 and the continued health burden of NEC, we aimed to systematically review the incidence of NEC in preterm infants 'before' vs 'after' implementing a SFR.
STUDY DESIGN: PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL and E-abstracts from the Pediatric Academic Society meetings and other pediatric and neonatal conference proceedings were searched in May 2016. Observational studies reporting incidence of NEC before and after implementing a SFR were included. Relevant data were extracted independently by two reviewers. Meta-analysis was conducted using random effects model (REM) and results rechecked with fixed effects model.
RESULTS: Pooled results from 15 observational studies (N=18160) using REM showed that SFR significantly reduced the incidence of NEC (risk ratio 0.22; 95% confidence interval 0.13 to 0.36; P <0.00001; i(2) = 74%). The results remained significant after comparing studies in two epochs (1978 to 2003 vs 2004 to 2016).
CONCLUSION: SFR continues to be an important tool in prevention of NEC in preterm infants.