Nutrition, growth and body composition in preterm infants

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Brennan, Ann-Marie
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University College Cork
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The goal of neonatal nutrition in the preterm infant is to achieve postnatal growth and body composition approximating that of a normal fetus of the same postmenstrual age and to obtain a functional outcome comparable to infants born at term. However, in clinical practice such a pattern is seldom achieved, with growth failure and altered body composition being extensively reported. The BabyGrow preterm nutrition study was a longitudinal, prospective, observational study designed to investigate nutrition and growth in 59 preterm infants following the implementation of evidence-based nutrition guidelines in the neonatal unit at Cork University Maternity Hospital. Nutrient delivery was precisely measured during the entire hospital stay and intakes were compared with current international recommendations. Barriers to nutrient delivery were identified across the phases of nutritional support i.e. exclusive parenteral nutrition and transition (establishment of enteral feeds) phases of nutrition and nutritional strategies to optimise nutrient delivery were proposed according to these phases. Growth was measured from birth up to 2 months corrected age and body composition was assessed in terms of fat mass and lean body mass by air displacement plethysmography (PEA POD) at 34 weeks gestation, term corrected age and 2 months corrected age. Anthropometric and body composition data in the preterm cohort were compared with a term reference group from the Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study (n=1070) at similar time intervals. The clinical and nutritional determinants of growth and body composition during the neonatal period were reported for the first time. These data have international relevance, informing authoritative agencies developing evidence-based practice guidelines for neonatal nutritional support. In the future, the nutritional management of preterm infants may need to be individualised to consider gestational age, birth weight as well as preterm morbidity.
Nutrition , Growth , Body composition , Fat mass , Preterm infant , Post-natal growth failure
Brennan, A-M. 2014. Nutrition, growth and body composition in preterm infants. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.