We report a statewide quality improvement initiative aimed to decrease the incidence of extrauterine growth restriction among very low birth weight infants cared for in Tennessee NICUs.


The cohort consisted of infants born appropriate for gestational age between May 2016 and December 2018 from 9 NICUs across Tennessee. The infants were 23 to 32 weeks gestation and 500 to 1499 g birth weight. The process measures were the hours of life (HOL) when parenteral protein and intravenous lipid emulsion were initiated, the number of days to first enteral feeding, and attainment of full enteral caloric intake (110–130 kcal/kg per day). The primary outcome was extrauterine growth restriction, defined as weight <10th percentile for weight at 36 weeks postmenstrual age. Statistical process control charts and the Shewhart control rules were used to find special cause variation.


Although special cause variation was not indicated in the primary outcome measure, it was indicated for the reduction in specific process measures: HOL when parenteral protein was initiated, HOL when intravenous lipid emulsion was initiated, and the number of days to attainment of full enteral caloric intake (among the hospitals considered regional perinatal centers).


A statewide quality improvement initiative led to earlier initiation of parenteral and enteral nutrition and improved awareness of the importance of postnatal nutrition.

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