The field of postdischarge nutrition for preterm infants arose when concerns that using diets suitable for term infants—breastfeeding without fortification or standard formulas—might not meet the postdischarge nutritional needs of infants born preterm, who often exhibited growth restriction and evidence of undernutrition. A decade ago, there were already 27 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of nutritional supplementation from which an eligible subsample of trials have provided evidence on whether nutritional fortification of human milk or nutrient-enriched formula favorably affects postdischarge growth in these infants. These RCTs also allowed exploration of the quality of growth, bone mineralization, and the ad libitum–fed infant’s own regulation of milk volume and nutrient intake. Importantly, such RCTs, augmented by observational data on the links between growth and neurodevelopment, have allowed exploration of the potential impact of postdischarge nutrition on neurocognitive function. However, the interpretation of published data and the implication for practice has proven difficult and contentious. In this review, we examine, and to an extent reanalyze, existing evidence to elucidate its strengths and limitations, with the goal of adding more clarity to the ways in which this sizeable body of clinical scientific research may have a positive impact on the postdischarge nutritional approach to infants born preterm.

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