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Australasian neonatal intensive care enteral nutrition survey: Implications for practice


  • Conflict of interest: Barbara Cormack serves on scientific advisory boards for Nestle Nutrition Institute, Nutricia and Pfizer Nutrition. John Sinn has been an invited speaker at industry sponsored meetings. David Tudehope and Kei Lui have done consultancy work for Nutricia and Pfizer Nutrition.

Correspondence: Ms Barbara Cormack, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland 1003, New Zealand. Fax: +64 9 375 7044; email:



This survey investigated standardised feeding guidelines and nutrition policy in Australasian neonatal intensive care units and compared these with previously published surveys and international consensus nutrition recommendations.


An electronic survey on enteral nutrition comprising a wide range of questions about clinical practice was e-mailed to all 25 Australasian neonatal intensive care unit directors of tertiary perinatal centres.


Twenty-five surveys were distributed; 24 (96%) were completed. All respondents preferred breast milk as the first feed. For infants <1000 g, 58% started feeds at 1 mL every 4 hours and 83% started enteral feeds on day 0–2 in the absence of contraindications. The identification of bile-stained gastric aspirates significant enough to withhold feeds varied. Multicomponent breast milk fortifiers were added by 58% when enteral feeds reached 150 mL/kg day, while 21% added these earlier at 120 mL/kg day or less. Iron supplementation was started at 4 weeks by 63% and at 6 weeks by 27%. Only 42% of units had a neonatal dietitian. Of the 24 units who responded, 58% had no written enteral feeding guidelines.


Enteral nutrition was initiated earlier than in the past. Great variation remains in clinical practices. Nutritional implications are discussed. Standardisation of feeding guidelines and enteral nutrition policy based on current evidence and international consensus nutrition recommendations may be beneficial and should be encouraged.