Comparison of caloric intake and weight outcomes of anad libfeeding regimen for preterm infants in two nurseries
Background. Effects on caloric intake and weight gain of an ad libitum (ad lib) feeding regimen for preterm infants may be specific to a special care nursery.
Objective. To explore across two nurseries the similarity of effect on caloric intake and weight gain of an ad lib feeding regimen compared with a prescribed regimen and the similarity of effect of caloric intake on weight gain.
Methods. All infants participating in the multi-site randomized clinical trial (RCT) of the ad lib feeding regimen were <35 weeks gestational age at birth and had birth weight appropriate for gestational age. Data on caloric intake and weight gain were collected at two nurseries (A, n=22; B, n=78) with the same feeding regimen protocols. Two strategies were used to explore similarity of regimen effect on caloric intake and weight gain. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine the effect on caloric intake and weight gain of time, feeding regimen, and time-by-regimen interaction for each nursery.
Results. In both nurseries, regimen effects were reasonably consistent for caloric intake and weight gain. Caloric intake was lower across nurseries for infants fed ad lib. After accounting for caloric intake, the ad lib regimen did not affect weight gain. The time-by-regimen interaction effect on caloric intake was significant in both nurseries. Caloric intake for infants fed ad lib increased significantly over 5 days.
Conclusions. Despite differences between nurseries in infant characteristics and in protocol implementation, the feeding regimen effect was consistent for caloric intake and weight gain. Further support was found for the development of infant self-regulatory capacity.