The prevalence of feeding problems in children formerly treated in a neonatal intensive care unit

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the prevalence of oral feeding problems in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) graduates at 1 to 2 years, and to identify clinical risk factors during NICU admission.

STUDY DESIGN:

Observational cohort study of 378 children, who received level III/IV NICU care for 4 days or more in 2011 to 2012, chromosomal abnormalities excluded. We detected feeding problems in four gestational age (GA) groups (<28, 28 to 31, 32 to 36 weeks, and term-borns) using the Dutch standardized Screeningslijst Eetgedrag Peuters, and collected clinical factors for logistic regression analyses.

RESULTS:

The prevalence of feeding problems was higher in NICU (20.4%) than in reference (15.0%) population (P = 0.024), but similar for all GA groups (P = 0.468). Prolonged tube feeding, that is, >30 days (odds ratio (OR) 2.50, confidence interval (CI) 1.13 to 5.56) and being born small for GA (OR 4.79, CI 1.64 to 14.03) were the most prevalent risk factors in children with GA ≥ 32 and GA <32 weeks, respectively.

CONCLUSION:

Feeding problems are more prevalent in NICU graduates, with prolonged tube feeding as most important risk factor.

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