1. Health

Feeding Practices and Nutritional Evolution of Preterm Infants during Hospitalization: a Longitudinal Study

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Objectives To compare feeding practices and other anthropometric variables among preterm infants, based on the degree of prematurity during hospitalization and discharge, and to link these practices with nutritional evolution.

MethodsProspective Study with 44 preterm infants admitted to a referral facility for high-risk newborns in Pernambuco between 2016 and 2017. Data were analyzed by consulting medical records in order to compare birth characteristics, feeding habits, and anthropometric measurements among preterm infants between 33 and 34 weeks gestational age.

Results Both enteral nutrition and full nutrition started at the same time in all groups. Premature infants who were gestated at > 34 weeks had a shorter onset of enteral nutrition and a shorter duration of use (p=0.002; 25; 5-36, p=0.0001 respectively), began oral feeding earlier (7.5, 2-32 vs. 1-24; p=0.019) and had higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge (56.2% vs.76.2%, P=0.0017). Premature infants with gestational ages = 33 weeks had a higher need for human milk enrichment (57.0% vs. 16.00%, p=0.0001) and a longer hospital stay (31-35 vs. 12.5-355, p=0.0001). The hospitalization time and the start of enteral nutrition were positively correlated (r=0.410; p=0.007).

Conclusion: Eating habits and nutritional evolution in premature infants may be affected by physiological maturity. This study shows that the length of hospital stay is positively related to the time taken to start enteral nutrition. These findings could lead to improved nutrition for premature infants.



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