Aim: To evaluate the enteral feeding practice of preterm infants <32 weeks (W) gestational age (GA) or <1500 g birth weight (BW) from human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-seropositive mothers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Methods: This prospective cross-sectional study included all neonatal units (NU) admitting preterm infants <32W or <1500 g BW in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In June and July 2009, an anonymized questionnaire was sent via e-mail, asking whether mothers of the above patients were screened for HCMV, and about the enteral feeding protocol for preterm infants <32W GA or <1500 g BW from HCMV-seropositive mothers.
Results: During the study period, 58.6% of the questionnaires (123/210) from Germany, 50% (13/26) from Austria and 50% (6/12) from Switzerland were returned, yielding a total of 6232 preterm infants for analysis. Formula was given to the mentioned preterm infants in 28.5% (35/123) of the German NUs but not in Austria or Switzerland. Untreated breast milk was given in 66.6% (4/6) of the Swiss, 14.6% (18/123) of the German and no Austrian NU. Long-term pasteurized breast milk was given in 32.5% (40/123) of the German and 38.5% (5/13) of the Austrian NUs, but not in Switzerland. Short-term pasteurized breast milk was given only in 5.7% (7/123) of German NUs. Freeze-thawed breast milk was given in Germany (4.9%; 6/123), Austria (61.5%; 8/13) and Switzerland (16.7%; 1/6).
Conclusion: Preterm infants <32W GA or <1500 g BW born to HCMV-seropositive mothers are fed according to different regimes in German-speaking countries. About 28.5% of the German VLBW-infants receive formula, which is not recommended.