Nutritional Supplements Promote the Growth of Premature Babies
2019-04-18 11:10 Thursday
Breastfed premature babies who were discharged from the hospital were given supplements that prevented weight loss and helped promote growth, according to results of a trial. Breast milk does not always meet the dietary needs of vulnerable babies born before 37 weeks, with about half failing to grow properly.
Luise Marino, a clinical pediatric nutritionist at Southampton Children's Hospital, said all babies lose about 10% of their weight by losing water shortly after birth, the BBC reported. "They don't have as much fat, minerals or iron, so they need extra nutrients," she said.
The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed that eight weeks of extra nutrition improved a newborn's weight, head growth and length a year later.
Currently, in the UK, breastfed premature babies receive protein-rich and mineral-rich supplements such as calcium during neonatal wards, Marino said.
The supplement, also known as a breast milk tonic, is mixed with breast milk and given to babies through feeding tubes. Once the premature baby reaches an acceptable weight and is sent home, the supplements are stopped.
Because doctors are unable to prescribe any additional nutrition, babies often get their nutrients from formula, Marino said.
For the study, the team looked at the effects of supplements on 32 mothers and their babies after eight weeks.
In the study, babies weighed an average of 1.3 kilograms at birth, most of them at about 30 weeks of gestation. When they returned home, the babies weighed an average of 2.5 kilograms.
The report recommends adding a small amount of the supplement to the expressed breast milk before each feeding and giving it to the baby through a cup or syringe.