OBJECTIVE:

To determine if the addition of a multinutrient human milk fortifier to mother's milk while breastfeeding very preterm infants after hospital discharge is possible and whether it influences first-year growth.

METHODS:

Of a cohort of 320 infants (gestational age: 24–32 weeks; birth weight: 535–2255 g), breastfed infants (65% [n = 207]) were randomly assigned shortly before hospital discharge to receive either unfortified (n = 102, group A) or fortified (n = 105, group B) mother's milk until 4 months' corrected age (CA). The remaining infants were bottle-fed with a preterm formula (group C). Follow-up was performed at term and at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months' CA.

RESULTS:

Mean duration of breastfeeding after term was not significantly different between groups A and B (11.8 and 10.6 weeks, respectively). Weight, length, and head circumference were not significantly different between groups A and B at 12 months' CA. Compared with groups A and B, infants in group C had a higher increase in weight z score until term and in length z score until 6 months' CA. At 12 months' CA, boys in group C were significantly longer and heavier compared with those in groups A and B, whereas girls in group C were longer and heavier compared with those in group A only. A higher protein intake was related to a higher serum urea nitrogen level and growth.

CONCLUSIONS:

Fortification of mother's milk after hospital discharge while breastfeeding very preterm infants was possible without influencing breastfeeding duration but did not significantly influence growth parameters at 1 year of age compared with unfortified mother's milk.

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