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Very small babies are not affected by the rate of increasing milk feeds

Very small babies are not affected by the rate of increasing milk feeds

A large-scale trial has found that the speed of increasing milk feed volumes in low birth weight or very low gestational age babies who are on intravenous feeding does not influence outcomes.

This NIHR-funded study randomised pre-term (below 32 weeks) or very low birth weight (less than 1,500g) babies to receive either daily milk feed increases in increments of 30ml per kilogram of bodyweight or 18ml per kilogram of bodyweight.

After two years of follow up, there was no significant difference in survival without moderate or severe neurodevelopmental disability between the groups. The two groups also had similar rates of serious infection, necrotising enterocolitis (a bowel disorder), and death.

This offers reassurance that faster introduction of milk through the nasogastric tube does not cause harm from bowel problems and that slower rates do not cause more infection from a longer need of the intravenous feeding line.

The SIFT study involved 2,804 babies from 55 UK hospitals, including 86 from Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital and 16 from Reading's Royal Berkshire Hospital. 

Read more about the study on the NIHR Dissemination Centre website.