With limited clinical evidence available to guide common nutritional decisions, significant variation exists in approaches to enteral feeding for very preterm infants, specifically when feedings are initiated, what is fed, and the method used for feedings. Preclinical studies have highlighted the benefits associated with avoiding nil per os and providing early-stage mother’s own milk or colostrum. However, these recommended approaches are often mutually exclusive due to the delays in lactation associated with very preterm delivery, resulting in uncertainty regarding which approach should be prioritized. Few studies have evaluated feeding frequency in preterm infants, with limited generalizability to extremely preterm infants. Therefore, even evidence-based approaches to very preterm infant feed initiation can differ. Future research is needed to identify optimal strategies for enteral nutrition in very preterm infants, but, until then, evidence-informed approaches may vary depending on each neonatal intensive care unit’s assessment of risk and benefit.
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ALP has no competing interests. SNT has received an honorarium from Astarte Medical and a consultation fee from Alcresta Therapeutics.
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Patel, A.L., Taylor, S.N. Dilemmas in initiation of very preterm infant enteral feeds—when, what, how?. J Perinatol 43, 108–113 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-022-01564-6