Earlier initiation of enteral nutrition is associated with lower risk of late-onset bacteremia only in most mature very low birth weight infants

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To examine the temporal relationship between early enteral nutrition (EN) and coagulase-negative staphylococcal (CoNS)-related late-onset bacteremia (LOB) in very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates.

Study Design:

Multivariate analyses performed on a large retrospective cohort of neonates admitted to a tertiary care neonatal unit.


Due to the predominance and particular timing of CoNS, LOB occurred mostly during a critical period peaking at 9 days of age. This period also corresponded to a gestational maturation-dependent breakpoint in time to achieve full EN, associated with significant reduction in incidence of bacteremia (adjusted OR 0.15; 95%CI [0.10-0.20]; P<0.05). In subgroup analyses, more ‘mature’ (i.e. ≥28 and <32 weeks) preterm neonates reached full EN before this critical period and consequently, earlier EN in this group was associated with a shorter duration of PN and reduced incidence of CoNS bacteremia. In contrast, most ‘immature’ preterm neonates (i.e. <28 weeks) generally received PN beyond this critical period and therefore, did not appear to benefit from earlier initiation of EN. Even though EN was usually initiated earlier when formula milk was used as a complement to breast-milk, this practice was not associated with a reduction in the incidence of CoNS in any preterm gestational groups tested.


A reduction in incidence of bacteremia was observed only in more mature VLBW neonates who achieved full EN before the second-week of life critical period for CoNS, These results provide important endpoints for future trials evaluating changes in nutritional interventions potentially effective in reducing neonatal LOB.

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