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Weaning and complementary feeding in preterm infants: management, timing and health outcome

Roberta Barachetti, Elisabetta Villa, Mario Barbarini
  • Elisabetta Villa
    Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Sant’Anna Hospital, San Fermo della Battaglia (CO), Italy
  • Mario Barbarini
    Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Sant’Anna Hospital, San Fermo della Battaglia (CO), Italy


The introduction of solid food is necessary for any infant in order to provide adequate nutrition because when they grow up milk is insufficient for their nutritional needs. Infants born preterm have increased nutritional requirements. The high nutrient demands as well as the organ immaturity of preterm infants combine to render it difficult to achieve dietary intakes that will allow preterm infants to match their in utero growth rates. Current guidelines for the introduction of solid food to term infants cannot be directly translated to preterm infants. For preterm infants such guidelines are lacking. Based on the limited available evidence, it could be concluded that a corrected age of 3 months (13 weeks) may be an appropriate age to start introducing solid food for most preterm infants. About celiac disease (CD), gluten may be introduced into the infant’s diet anytime between 4 and 12 completed months of age. In children at high risk for CD, earlier introduction of gluten (4 vs 6 months or 6 vs 12 months) is associated with earlier development of CD autoimmunity (defined as positive serology) and CD, but the cumulative incidence of each in later childhood is similar. Relatively to weaning and allergies, the European Society of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology and the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition have produced joint guidelines. They recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 4–6 months or use of hypoallergenic formulas if exclusive breastfeeding is not possible. In addition, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations now state that there is no evidence to recommend maternal dietary restrictions during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, there is no evidence that delaying introduction of solids including allergenic foods after 4–6 months is protective.


Preterm; Weaning; Feeding; Celiac disease

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Submitted: 2017-12-15 13:17:51
Published: 2017-12-22 16:21:59
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Copyright (c) 2017 Roberta Barachetti, Elisabetta Villa, Mario Barbarini

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