Neonatal Nutrition Initiative

Newborn photoNeonatal Nutrition Initiative


Postnatal nutritional deficit in Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) infants is associated with developmental delay and adult morbidities. Hospital teams participating in the Neonatal Nutrition Initiative work to reduce the number of VLBW babies discharged with body weight less than the 10th percentile by increasing their growth after birth through evidence-based feeding protocols. These protocols have been shown to optimize the growth of VLBW infants and improve long-term health outcomes for these at-risk infants.


As compared with the intrauterine growth of normal term infants, the growth of prematurely born infants is typically delayed. Approximately 90% of VLBW infants fall in the category of extra-uterine growth restriction by 36 weeks post-conceptional age. Poor nutrition is a significant contributory factor and is associated with prolonged hospitalization and an increased risk for poor health outcomes.

The goal of this initiative is to improve the nutritional status of premature infants, particularly VLBW, by instituting early enteral feeding and TPN (total parenteral nutrition) supplementation when indicated. By standardizing the method of early nutrition with increased use of breast milk, appropriate use of TPN together with closely monitoring the growth parameters (weight, length, head circumference) at each NICU, we will try to achieve improvement in the growth pattern, therefore diminishing the number of extra-uterine growth restricted infants in Illinois.


Download the Nutrition Initiative factsheet»



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