Postnatal growth restriction and failure to thrive have been recently identified as a major issue in preterm, especially extremely-low-birth-weight neonates. An increased length of time to reach full enteral feedings is also significantly associated with a poorer mental outcome in preterm neonates at 24 months corrected age. Optimization of enteral nutrition without increasing the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) has thus become a priority in preterm neonates. A range of feeding strategies currently exists for preventing/minimizing feed intolerance in preterm neonates reflecting the dilemma surrounding the definition and significance of signs of feed intolerance due to ileus of prematurity and the fear of NEC. The results of a systematic review of current strategies for preventing/ minimizing feed intolerance in preterm neonates are discussed. The need for clinical research in the area of signs of feed intolerance is emphasized to develop a scientific basis to feeding strategies. Only large pragmatic trials based on such strategies will reveal whether the benefits (improved growth and long term neurodevelopmental outcomes) of aggressive enteral nutrition can outweigh the risks of a potentially devastating illness like NEC, and of prolonged parenteral nutrition in preterm neonates.
|Journal||The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|