Optimal enteral feeding methods have not been well defined in preterm infants. Controversy exists regarding how fast to advance enteral feedings, either slow or rapid. To be able to find the best and safest method to feed preterm infants while minimizing complications like NEC remains a challenging goal and needs to be given importance.
In the clinical setting, it has been observed that infants who are on enteral feeding sometimes manifest signs and symptoms of feeding intolerance such as gastric residuals, abdominal distention and vomiting. These manifestations however, remain undiagnosed and untreated without knowing that it is already progressing to NEC.
This meta-analysis looked into the significant difference between slow and rapid enteral feeding advancements in preventing the incidence NEC among preterm infants. Manual and electronic search using the keywords ENTERAL FEEDING, SLOW AND RAPID ADVANCEMENTS, PRETERM INFANTS, and NECROTIZING ENTEROCOLITIS were used to locate published and unpublished studies.
The meta-analysis approach was utilized wherein various clinical trials about the effects of enteral feeding advancements in preventing the incidence of NEC among preterm infants were collected and the results of these studies were synthesized.
The outcome measure considered was Necrotizing enterocolitis. Through the use of the Mantel Haenszel Chi-Square test as supported by the Revman User Guide, the findings revealed that slow enteral feeding advancement significantly prevents the incidence of NEC with a p-value of 0.0153.
This clinically implies that compared to rapid enteral feeding advancement, slow enteral feeding advancement is safer to use to be able to prevent NEC among preterm infants.