Enteral Feedings in Children: Sorting Out Tubes, Buttons, and Formulas

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Abstract

Enteral nutrition (EN) is the provision of food or nutrients beyond the esophagus via a tube either to the stomach or small intestines. Choosing the route, method, and formula for administration of EN to infants and children is complicated by the increasing options available. Indications and contraindications change as surgical procedures and medical treatments advance. Human milk remains the normative standard for infant formulas; if a safe supply is available, it is recommended as optimal nutrition for infants, including via enteral tube access. For infants without an available supply of human milk and children older than 12 months, a wide variety of formulas are available, including the renewed interest in formulas using cooked table foods. This article presents the different methods of EN access placement, maintenance, formula recommendations, and advancement of EN. It is important for healthcare professionals to be aware of the options and recommendations for EN.

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