Current issues in nutritional management of very low birth weight infants

K. M. Hawthorne, I. J. Griffin, S. A. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Infants less than 1 500 g birth weight (very low birth weight, VLBW) are at risk for significant nutritional deficiencies. Enhancing nutritional care of these infants during their first months of life may have important short and long-term benefits. In this article we will consider several areas of recent research in the nutritional management of VLBW infants. In particular we will focus on issues related to the introduction and use of enteral nutrition. These issues include avoiding mineral deficiencies, early (minimal) enteral nutrition, human milk fortification, and postdischarge nutrition. Transitioning VLBW infants successfully to enteral nutrition is a key to their achieving adequate growth and development without the long-term risks related to parenteral nutrition. Human milk is a key component of any strategy for enteral nutrition of all infants. Its introduction in the first days of life leads to improved growth and better health outcomes for infants. However, although some nutrients are initially increased in the milk of mothers delivering prematurely, there are inadequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, zinc and other nutrients to meet the needs of the VLBW infant during growth. Therefore, safe and effective means of fortifying human milk are essential to the care of VLBW infants. The optimal approaches for this fortification and the potential risks related to human milk fortification remain controversial. Limited data are available for the optimal content, initiation and methods for mixing fortifier with human milk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-372
Number of pages14
JournalMinerva Pediatrica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Enteral nutrition
  • Food, fortified
  • Infant, premature
  • Milk, human
  • Nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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