Formula versus donor breast milk for feeding preterm or low birth weight infants

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In preterm and LBW infants, feeding with formula compared with donor breast milk, either as a supplement to maternal expressed breast milk or as a sole diet, results in higher rates of weight gain, linear growth, and head growth and a near doubled risk of developing necrotising enterocolitis. The trial data do not show an effect on all‐cause mortality, or on long‐term growth or neurodevelopment.

When sufficient maternal breast milk is not available, alternative sources of enteral nutrition for preterm or low birth weight infants are donor breast milk or artificial formula. Donor breast milk may retain some of the non‐nutritive benefits of maternal breast milk, but feeding with artificial formula may ensure more consistent delivery of optimal levels of nutrients. Uncertainty exists about the balance of risks and benefits of feeding formula versus donor breast milk for preterm or low birth weight infants. This review aims to determine the effect of feeding with formula compared with donor breast milk on growth and development in preterm or low birth weight infants

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