Infants born prematurely are often discharged from hospital before 37 weeks post menstrual age. While breastfeeding will meet all the nutritional requirements of full-term infants, these preterm infants may need enhanced levels of protein, minerals and possibly energy to ensure optimum growth, bone mineralisation and neurological development. To meet these additional nutrient needs in the neonatal unit, it is currently recommended that multinutrient breast milk fortifier is added to maternal breast milk. There may also be benefits in continuing to provide fortified milk after discharge, potentially including improved growth and preserving breastfeeding, and this is increasingly becoming a recognised practice in some neonatal units. This article presents the discussion and consensus of a multidisciplinary panel of neonatologists, neonatal dietitians, a GP and a neonatal outreach nurse. The aim is to develop guidance on providing safe and effective nutritional supplementation for preterm infants after discharge in order to maintain optimal growth. This guidance is aimed at community healthcare staff and is based on the limited evidence available, using shared best practice and expertise.
- Breast milk
- Preterm infants