Impact of pre-term baby nutritional support on neurodevelopment

Professor Frank Bloomfield, University of Auckland

Babies born at moderate-late pre-term (MLPT) gestation account for more than 80% of all pre-term births. Although survival rates are excellent, these babies are at increased risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. They also risk adverse long-term health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.

Pre-term baby nutrition strategies vary widely

Nutrition in pre-term babies is critical for supporting healthy growth, including brain growth. However, there is little evidence guiding optimal nutritional practices in MLPT babies, so practice varies widely.

A trial is investigating the effects of different feeding strategies

DIAMOND is a randomised controlled trial in MLPT babies. It’s investigating the role of different feeding strategies (parenteral nutrition, milk supplementation, and exposure to smell and taste) in the early days after birth until four months corrected age.

Professor Bloomfield is focusing on later neurodevelopmental outcomes

Professor Bloomfield and his team are assessing neurodevelopmental status in DIAMOND babies at two years corrected age. Their work will determine the impact of different nutritional interventions on neurodevelopmental outcomes, as well as growth, body composition, health, behaviour and eating patterns.

Importantly, the trial will enable the team to develop nutritional support recommendations based on evidence related to in-hospital outcomes, metabolic health and neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Cure Kids is funding the year-two research

By funding this important year-two follow-up of DIAMOND trial babies, and the inclusion of neurodevelopmental outcomes, Cure Kids is helping to ensure the best possible long-term health outcomes for pre-term babies.