Nasal versus oral route for placing feeding tubes in preterm or low birth weight infants

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There is insufficient evidence on the effect of nasal versus oral replacement of enteral feeding tubes on growth and development, food tolerance, or incidence of adverse events in low birth weight or preterm babies. One small trial found no evidence of an effect on the time taken to establish enteral feeding or the time taken to regain birth weight, however the trial may have been too small to detect modest effect sizes. Another small trial found nostatistically significant differences on incidence of apnoea, desaturation, and bradycardia during the study period.

In preterm or low birth weight infants, enteral feeding is a preferred method of nutrition. The enteral tubes can either be used orally (mouth) or inserted in to the nose. However, both methods of placement are associated with adverse events. For example, nasal placement is associated with restrictions in respiration whereas, oral tubes are associated with vagal stimulation, localised irritation and are often prone to displacement. The aim of this review was to determine the effect of nasal versus oral placement of enteral feeding tubes on food tolerance, growth and development and the incidence of adverse events in preterm or low birth weight infants.

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