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Acta Paediatr. 2000 Nov;89(11):1358-63.

Does early hospital discharge with home support of families with preterm infants affect breastfeeding success? A randomized trial.

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Department of Paediatrics, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


The aim of the present study was to determine if earlier discharge of preterm infants (<37 wk) from hospital is safe and if it affects breastfeeding rates. In a pilot observational study, premature infants received full oral (sucking) feeds for a mean (SD) 7.7 +/- 7.9 d before discharge. In the main study, 308 preterm infants were randomly assigned to either Early Discharge (148 infants) when fully orally fed but not yet gaining weight or Routine Discharge (160 infants) when fully orally fed and also gaining weight before discharge. A further 122 mothers declined randomization. The Early Discharge group was followed by Visiting Nurse Specialists who were available 24 h a day, while the Routine group was followed by the Home Care Nurses available on week days. There were no significant differences between the groups in birthweight or gestational age. The Early Discharge group were discharged 2.5 +/- 2 d after full oral feeding compared to 4.4 +/- 2.7 d for the Routine group (p < 0.001) and 6.1 +/- 5 d for those who declined. However, there was no significant difference between the Early and Routine groups for breastfeeding either at discharge (80 vs 83%), or 6 wk (55 vs 60%) or 6 mo after discharge (36 vs 36%), or for weight gain, or rates of re-hospitalization (8.8% vs 11.9% at 6 wk, p = 0.37).


Early discharge from hospital once a preterm infant can take full oral feeds does not alter later breastfeeding rates when adequate visiting nursing support is available.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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