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Feeding infants below 29 weeks’ gestation with abnormal antenatal Doppler: analysis from a randomised trial


Objective To describe feeding and gastrointestinal outcomes in growth-restricted infants <29 weeks’ gestation and to determine the rate of feed advancement which they tolerate.

Design Analysis of prospectively collected data from a randomised feeding trial, the Abnormal Doppler Enteral Prescription Trial (ADEPT).

Setting 54 neonatal units in the UK and Ireland.

Participants 404 preterm, growth-restricted infants with abnormal antenatal Doppler studies from ADEPT. 83 infants <29 weeks and 312 infants ≥29 weeks’ gestation were included in this analysis.

Interventions In ADEPT, infants were randomised to start milk ‘early’ on day 2 after birth, or ‘late’ on day 6. Subsequent feed advancement followed a regimen, which should have achieved full feeds by day 16 in the early and day 20 in the late group.

Main outcome measures Full feeds were achieved later in infants <29 weeks; median age 28 days {IQR 22–40} compared with 19 days {IQR 17–23} in infants ≥29 weeks (HR 0.35, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.5). The incidence of necrotising enterocolitis was also higher in this group; 32/83 (39%) compared to 32/312 (10%) in those ≥29 weeks (RR 3.7, 95% CI 2.4 to 5.7). Infants <29 weeks tolerated very little milk for the first 10 days of life and reached full feeds 9 days later than predicted from the trial regimen.

Conclusions Growth-restricted infants born <29 weeks’ gestation with abnormal antenatal Doppler failed to tolerate even the careful feeding regimen of ADEPT. A slower advancement of feeds may be required for these infants.

Trial registration number ISRCTN87351483.

  • Neonatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Nutrition
  • Fetal Medicine

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