Optimal growth and successful feeding in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are difficult to achieve, and data indicate premature infants continue to struggle after discharge. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify growth and feeding outcomes in the NICU published within the last 10 years. Available evidence suggests weight-for-age decreases between birth and discharge from the NICU, and continues to lag behind expectations after discharge. Prevalence rates of breastfeeding differ across countries, with declining rates after discharge from the NICU. Interventions focused on increasing breastfeeding rates are effective. Most healthy preterm infants successfully nipple feed at a gestational age ≥ 36 weeks, but infants may be discharged prior to achieving full oral feeding, or eating with poor coordination. Earlier born preterm infants are later at achieving full oral feedings. After discharge, preterm infants are slower to develop eating skills, parental reports of feeding problems are prevalent, and parents introduce solids to their infants earlier than recommended. This review enhances professionals’ understanding of the difficulties of feeding and growth in preterm born infants that are faced by parents.
Ross, E. S., & Browne, J. V. (2013). Feeding outcomes in preterm infants after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): A systematic review. Newborn and Infant Nursing Reviews, 13(2), 87-93.