To determine the effect of two different feeding strategies on time to achieve full enteral feeding and the incidence of feeding intolerance in preterm infants with birth weight ≤1250 g. A prospective randomized trial (NCT02913677) conducted at a tertiary level neonatal intensive care unit. Preterm infants with birth weight ≤1250 g were randomly allocated to either prolonged minimal enteral nutrition (MEN) in which feed volumes were not increased for five days or early feeding advancement groups in which feed volumes were advanced by 20-25 ml/kg/d until 150 ml/kg/d feed volume was achieved. The primary outcomes were time to reach full enteral feeding sustained for 72 h and incidence of feeding intolerance. A total of 199 infants (99 in prolonged MEN and 100 in early feeding advancement groups) were involved in the study. No statistically significant differences were observed in time to achieve full enteral feeding and feeding intolerance. Daily weight gain (19 versus 16 g; < .001) was significantly higher in prolonged MEN group. There were no significant differences in weight percentiles and -scores at discharge. Duration of hospitalization was comparable between the groups. The overall incidence of late onset sepsis and culture proven sepsis was similar in both groups ( = .92 and = .22, respectively). Incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) was 5% in early feeding advancement group, whereas no case of NEC was observed in prolonged MEN group ( = .06). Prolonged MEN is not associated with a delay in time to achieve full enteral feedings. It may even provide an advantage for development of NEC in extremely low birth weight infants. Clinical Trials.gov: NCT02913677.
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