OBJECTIVE. The goal of this investigation was to determine how current parenteral nutrition and enteral nutrition practice intentions for preterm infants compare with published recommendations and previous feeding practices.

METHODS. A survey of feeding strategies for 3 preterm infant weight groups was sent to NICU directors, neonatal fellowship directors, neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, and neonatal dieticians. A total of 775 surveys were distributed by both electronic and standard mail services.

RESULTS. There were 176 survey responses (23%). The majority of practitioners initiated parenteral nutrition for very preterm infants in the first day of life. Ninety-one percent of respondents increased protein delivery daily. Most respondents increased lipid delivery at a fixed rate, rather than on the basis of triglyceride levels. Insulin was used in 98% of units, but only 12% of the time as a nutritional adjuvant to increase weight gain. Across all birth weight categories, breast milk was prescribed most commonly for the first enteral feeding. Enteral feedings were started earlier and increased faster than in the past, especially for extremely low birth weight infants (<1000 g). The majority of respondents prescribed enteral feedings for infants with indwelling umbilical arterial (75%) and umbilical venous (93%) catheters. Despite data that more rapid feeding advancement is safe, >80% of respondents increased feedings at rates of 10 to 20 mL/kg per day across all weight categories.

CONCLUSIONS. Clinicians reported that they are initiating parenteral and enteral nutrition earlier and in larger volumes than in the past, reflecting increased knowledge about best nutritional practices in very preterm neonates. The data suggest that the persistent extrauterine growth failure of preterm infants is not attributable to a lack of best nutritional practice knowledge and intention.

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