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Volume 10/Issue 5, September 2014

Nutrition following surgery in the preterm infant

Nicholas D Embleton


Over the last two decades advances in antenatal care and the management of preterm infants have resulted in increasing numbers of preterm babies surviving long term. These infants, however, remain vulnerable to a number of life-threatening conditions, particularly gastrointestinal complications such as necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). Unfortunately as deaths from respiratory diseases become less common, NEC has increased in importance and, combined with sepsis, is now the single most common reason for death after the first postnatal week. Good quality nutritional management is probably the most important factor in improving the outcome for preterm infants in general and for those undergoing surgery in particular. Around half of all infants with clinically diagnosed NEC will require surgery. In most, this results in removal of bowel tissue and/or the formation of a stoma. Careful nutritional management of these infants is important so that survival and long-term outcomes can be optimised.
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