Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Optimal feeding of low-birth-weight infants

Technical review

Edmond, Karen; Bahl, Rajiv; World Health Organization

Publication details

Number of pages: 121
Publication date: 2006
Languages: English
ISBN: 9241595094; 9789241595094



The Department of Child and Adolescent Health, in collaboration with the epidemiology unit of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, conducted this systematic review of issues in feeding of low birth weight infants. The review addresses the following key questions: what to feed, when to start feeding, how to feed, how often and how much.

These questions are answered for three subgroups of low birth weight infants - preterm infants of less than 32 weeks gestations, preterm infants of 32-36 weeks gestation and term low birth weight infants. The outcomes considered are mortality, severe morbidity, growth and development. The review clearly shows the benefits of exclusive breast milk feeding for the three subgroups of low birth weight infants. It summarizes the evidence for micronutrient supplementation for the different subgroups. Further, the review identifies safe alternative methods of feeding low birth infants who cannot yet breastfeed directly.