Randomized trial of earlier versus later oral feeding in very premature infants

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To ascertain if earlier oral feeding initiation results in earlier attainment of full oral feedings/hospital discharge in very premature infants.

Study design

Eligible infants born at <29 weeks’ gestation were randomized at 30 weeks’ postmenstrual age (PMA) to initiate oral feedings at 30 weeks’ PMA (Earlier Oral Feeding Group) versus 33 weeks’ PMA (Later Oral Feeding Group).


Thirty-four infants were randomized to the Earlier Oral Feeding Group and 32 to the Later Oral Feeding Group. There were no significant differences in our primary outcomes of PMA at full oral feedings (mean difference –0.5 weeks, 95% CI: –2.2 to +1.2 weeks) or hospital discharge (mean difference –0.2 weeks, 95% CI: –1.8 to +1.4 weeks).


Initiating oral feeding attempts in very premature infants at 30 weeks’ PMA does not result in earlier attainment of full oral feedings or discharge but is safe for infants who are not severely tachypneic or receiving positive pressure.

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Richard Warren Mithoff Professorship in Neonatal/Perinatal Medicine.

Author information


  1. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston, TX, USA

    • Ann Gerges
    • , Polina Gelfer
    •  & Kathleen Kennedy
  2. Department of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), Houston, TX, USA

    • Ann Gerges
    • , Polina Gelfer
    •  & Kathleen Kennedy


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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ann Gerges.