Improving growth in preterm infants during initial hospital stay: principles into practice

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Despite recent innovations in nutritional care, postnatal growth failure between birth and hospital discharge remains a significant problem in preterm infants. Whether or not it is entirely preventable is unclear. What is clear is that feeding practices and growth outcomes vary widely between neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). This partly reflects lack of data in key areas but it also reflects inconsistent translation of principles into practice and limitations in the way infants are fed and growth monitored in the NICU. These issues will be reviewed, in the process underline the key roles that audit, standardised feeding protocol, individualised nutritional care and a nutritional support team play in improving outcome in these high-risk infants.

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