Effects of nutrients in human milk on the recipient premature infant.
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As the rate of survival of premature infants is increasing, more attention is necessarily focused on improving the quality of survival through optimal nutritional management. The nutritional needs of the premature infant are greater than at any other time in the life cycle. The benefits of human milk for term infants are well known. Emerging data suggest that human milk may especially benefit the premature infant. The human milk-fed premature infant may experience improved health (such as lower rates of infection and necrotizing enterocolitis), gastrointestinal function, and neurodevelopment. These factors may outweigh the concerns about adequate growth, nutrient accretion, and biochemical indices of nutritional status attributed to the lower nutrient content of human milk compared with preterm formula. Some of the nutritional concerns may be met by the use of multinutrient supplements during the time infants receive tube-feeding, generally the time prior to attaining complete oral feeding in-hospital. The available data suggest that the quality of survival of premature infants can be improved, both in the short-term and long-term, through the feeding of human milk.
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