Effect of Differential Enteral Protein on Growth and Neurodevelopment in Infants <1500 g: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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The aim of the study was to determine whether higher enteral protein intake leads to improved head growth at 40 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA) in preterm infants <32 weeks or 1500 g.


Randomized controlled trial in which 120 infants were assigned to either group A with higher enteral protein intake achieved by fortification with higher protein containing fortifier (1 g/100 mL expressed breast milk) or to group B with lower enteral protein intake where fortification was done with standard available protein fortifier (0.4 g /100 mL expressed breast milk).


The mean (standard deviation) protein intake was higher in group A as compared to group B; 4.2 (0.47) compared with 3.6 (0.37) g · kg−1 · day−1, P < 0.001. At 40 weeks PMA, the mean (standard deviation) weekly occipitofrontal circumference gain was significantly higher in group A as compared to group B; 0.66 (0.16) compared with 0.60 (0.15) cm/week (mean difference 0.064, 95% confidence interval [0.004–0.123], [P = 0.04]). Weight growth velocity in group A was 11.95 (2.2) g · kg−1 · day−1 as compared to 10.78 (2.6) g · kg−1 · day−1 in group B (mean difference 1.10, 95% confidence interval [0.25–2.07], [P = 0.01]). No difference was observed in the length between the 2 groups. There was no difference in growth indices and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 12 to 18 months corrected age in the 2 groups.


Fortification of expressed human milk with fortifier containing higher protein results in better head growth and weight gain at 40 weeks PMA in preterm infants <32 weeks or 1500 g without any benefits on long-term growth and neurodevelopment at 12 to 18 months corrected age (CTRI/2014/06/004661).

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