Introduction: Whether parenteral nutrition benefits growth of very low birth weight (VLBW) preterm infants in the setting of rapid enteral feeding advancement is unclear. Our aim was to examine this issue using data from Japan, where enteral feeding typically advances at a rapid rate. Methods: We studied 4005 hospitalized VLBW, very preterm (23-32 weeks' gestation) infants who reached full enteral feeding (100 ml/kg/day) by day 14, from 75 institutions in the Neonatal Research Network Japan (2003-2007). Main outcomes were weight gain, head growth, and extra-uterine growth restriction (EUGR, measurement <10th percentile for postmenstrual age) at discharge. Results: 40% of infants received parenteral nutrition. Adjusting for maternal, infant, and institutional characteristics, infants who received parenteral nutrition had greater weight gain [0.09 standard deviation (SD), 95% CI: 0.02, 0.16] and head growth (0.16 SD, 95% CI: 0.05, 0.28); lower odds of EUGR by head circumference (OR 0.66, 95% CI: 0.49, 0.88). No statistically significant difference was seen in the proportion of infants with EUGR at discharge. SGA infants and infants who took more than a week until full feeding had larger estimates. Discussion: Even in infants who are able to establish enteral nutrition within 2 weeks, deprivation of parenteral nutrition in the first weeks of life could lead to under nutrition, but infants who reached full feeding within one week benefit least. It is important to predict which infants are likely or not likely to advance on enteral feedings within a week and balance enteral and parenteral nutrition for these infants.
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