Survival of preterm infants has increased greatly over the years, so a major aim now is to
improve the long term outlook for these babies and to avoid serious complications. The way
babies are fed in early life affects short and long-term health and survival.
Because the bowels of preterm infants have not matured, they cannot digest large volumes of
milk feeds straight away. Until the gut matures, nutrition is provided by intravenous drip
while the amount of milk given is gradually increased over time. Increasing the amount of
milk rapidly may increase the risk of gut complications. Increasing the amount of milk given
more slowly means that intravenous nutrition is needed for longer; there is an associated
risk of infection proportional to the time the intravenous line is present in the bloodstream
of these infants. Despite the importance of milk feeding preterm infants, there have been few
studies to inform how best to balance these risks, and what the best way to increase feeds in
these infants is - this study sets out to address this missing information.
The study will compare two different speeds of milk feed increase, one 'faster' and one
'slower', both within rates currently used in United Kingdom neonatal units. The study aims
to find out if either speed of milk feed increase gives better outcomes for the infants.
Investigators will measure a variety of outcomes, such as survival without disability,
infection, bowel problems, growth and long-term physical and mental development, as well as
the impact on families and the National Health Service, including costs.
The study is being led by an established team of researchers who have run similar studies
before, and uses an established network of neonatal units that have taken part in previous