Refeeding syndrome in very-low-birth-weight intrauterine growth-restricted neonates

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Determine the incidence of refeeding syndrome, defined by the presence of hypophosphatemia in very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) compared with those without IUGR.


In this retrospective cohort study, VLBW infants admitted over a 10-year period (271 IUGR and 1982 non-IUGR) were evaluated for specific electrolyte abnormalities in the first postnatal week.


IUGR infants were significantly more likely to have hypophosphatemia (41% vs 8.9%, relative risk (95% confidence interval: 7.25 (5.45, 9.65)) and severe hypophosphatemia (11.4% vs 1%, 12.06 (6.82, 21.33)) in the first postnatal week. The incidence of hypophosphatemia was significantly associated with the presence of maternal preeclampsia in all VLBW infants (odds ratio (OR): 2.58 (1.96, 3.40)) when controlling for birth weight and gestational age.


Refeeding syndrome occurs in VLBW infants with IUGR and born to mothers with preeclampsia. Close monitoring of electrolytes, especially phosphorus, is warranted in this population.

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