Fifty nine infants of birthweight less than 1500 g were allocated alternately to initial total parenteral nutrition or to transpyloric feeding. Mortality was similar between the two groups. Ten of the 29 infants in the transpyloric group failed to establish full enteral nutrition during the first week of life. No beneficial effects on growth were shown in infants receiving parenteral nutrition. Acquired bacterial infection was higher in the parenteral group and associated with morbidity and mortality. Conjugated hyperbilirubinaemia occurred only in the parenterally fed infants. The incidence of necrotising enterocolitis was higher in the transpyloric group. Parenteral nutrition does not confer any appreciable benefit and because of greater complexity and higher risk of complications should be reserved for those infants in whom enteral feeding is impossible.
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