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Enteral nutrition for preterm infants: by bolus or continuous? An update

Valentina Bozzetti, Paolo E. Tagliabue
  • Valentina Bozzetti
    Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, MBBM Foundation, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy |
  • Paolo E. Tagliabue
    Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, MBBM Foundation, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy


Optimization of nutritional management of preterm infants is crucial for achievement of their long-term health. Enteral nutrition is preferred to total parenteral nutrition (TPN) because the former avoids complications related to vascular catheterization, sepsis, adverse effects of TPN, and fasting. Due to the lack of ability of preterm infants to coordinate suckling, swallowing, and breathing, tube feeding is necessary for most infants less than 1500 g to ensure sufficient feeding tolerance, to support optimal growth and to reduce the risk of aspiration. Therefore, feeding by orogastric or nasogastric tube using either continuous or intermittent bolus delivery of formula or human milk is common practice for these infants. Theoretical risks and benefits of both continuous nasogastric milk feeding and intermittent bolus milk feeding have been proposed. According to the literature, continuous nutrition could be preferred in smaller infants (as those with a birthweight below 1250 g) or hemodynamically impaired infants; in stable growing infants nutrition can be administered intermittently as in healthy term infants.


Enteral nutrition; Preterm infants; Bolus; Continuous

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Submitted: 2017-06-07 18:02:20
Published: 2017-06-28 15:39:18
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Copyright (c) 2017 Valentina Bozzetti, Paolo Emilio Tagliabue

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