Preterm birth affects 1 of every 10 infants in the United States. Improper nutrition in the NICU can result in impaired neurodevelopment, delayed cognitive development, retarded growth, and an increased risk for type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. It is essential that the intake of protein, macronutrients, and micronutrients be provided at the right nutritional levels during their first hours, days, and weeks of life while in the NICU, followed by an individual feeding strategy at discharge.
Dr. Tara Bastek and Dr. Ian Griffin provide detailed information to underscore the significance of proper nutritional intake in the NICU. They review the latest nutrient intake recommendations, and define optimal growth as an infant transitions from parenteral to enteral nutrition during the course of acute, convalescent, and discharge phases, with specific feeding strategies during each. Individualized formula fortification strategies are also discussed to help parents and providers follow prescribed feeding plans to optimize long-term outcomes.