Poor weight gain observed in preterm infants who were fed expressed breast milk compared with those fed a cows' milk formular prompted a detailed study of early postnatal growth in preterm infants fed these two milks. 68 infants were divided into two categories by gestational age at birth (i) 28-32 weeks (n=28), (ii) 33-36 weeks (n=40). They were randomly allocated to a feed of expressed breast milk or a milk formula (Ostermilk 1). Rates of weight gain, linear growth, and head circumference growth were evaluated over two periods: birth-1 month, 1-2 months. The younger group who were fed breast milk showed slower overall growth rates over the first month than those fed formula. In the second month, and for the older infants over both of the 2-monthly periods, growth rates were similar in the two feeding regimens. It is concluded that expressed breast milk is inadequate for the growth of very immature preterm infants during early postnatal life.
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