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Biomed Environ Sci. 2018 Jul;31(7):489-498. doi: 10.3967/bes2018.066.

Multi-center Study of Enteral Feeding Practices in Hospitalized Late Preterm Infants in China.

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Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100730, China.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.
Tongzhou Maternal & Child Health Hospital of Beijing, Beijing 101100, China.
Peking University People's Hospital, Beijing 100044, China.
Beijing Chao-Yang Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100020, China.
Peking University First Hospital, Beijing 100034, China.
Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing 100191, China.
Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100006, China.



To investigate the current enteral feeding practices in hospitalized late preterm infants in the Beijing area of China.


A multi-center, cross-sectional study was conducted. Infants born after 34 weeks and before 37 weeks of gestation were enrolled from 25 hospitals in the Beijing area of China from October 2015 to October 2017. Data on enteral feeding practices were collected and analyzed.


A total of 1,463 late preterm infants were enrolled, with a mean gestational age (GA) of 35.6 (34.9, 36.1) weeks. The percentage of exclusive breastfeeding was 4.5% at the initiation of enteral feeding but increased to 14.4% at discharge. When human milk was not available, most infants (46.1%) were fed with preterm infant formula. The rate of exclusive human milk feeding in infants born at 34 weeks gestation was higher than at discharge (21.1% of infants born at 34 weeks' GA versus 12.1% of infants born at 35 weeks' GA versus 12.3% of infants born at 36 weeks' GA, P < 0.001). Only 28.4% of late preterm infants achieved full enteral feeding at discharge, and only 19.2% achieved 120 kcal/(kg•d) by enteral feeding at discharge. Importantly, 40.5% of infants did not regain the birth weight at discharge.


Enteral feeding support of late preterm infants has not been standardized to achieve optimal growth. Moreover, the human milk feeding rate was low, and many late preterm infants did not achieve the goal of enteral feeding and failed to regain birth weight at the time of discharge. More aggressive enteral feedings protocols are needed to promote human milk feeding and optimize growth for late preterm infants.


Enteral feeding; Human milk feeding; Late preterm infants

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