Neonatology pp 619-637 | Cite as

Postdischarge Nutrition in Preterm Infants

  • Richard J. CookeEmail author
Reference work entry


Most preterm, particularly very-low-birth-weight, infants (VLBWI) are undernourished and undergrown at hospital discharge. Growth is “preprogrammed” to occur at a certain time or “critical” epoch which if missed may not be recoverable. Studies indicate that poor growth between birth-hospital discharge is associated with poorer neurodevelopmental outcome. Before hospital discharge, preterm infants fed human milk do not grow as well as infants fed nutrient-enriched formulas; also after discharge, it seems prudent to use milk fortification for all breastfed infants. The nutritional content of fortifiers differs: the level of fortification should be adjusted to ensure that growth, in terms of weight and length gain, is “tracking” in the right direction. Evidence suggests that a reduced body size is paralleled by a reduction in fat-free mass but a relative increase in fat mass, so particular attention should be paid to dietary protein and energy intakes in these infants. Close communication between designated personnel in the neonatal intensive care unit and the infant’s family is essential during this critical “epoch” of growth and development.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Tennessee Health Science CenterMemphisUSA

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