The results of the SIFT randomised controlled trial have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Each year, over 8,000 babies are born very prematurely (more than 8 weeks before their due date) in the UK and the best way to feed these babies in early is not known. How these babies are fed affects short and long-term health outcomes, health-care costs and resources, so it’s an important issue for the NHS and other health services across the world.
The SIFT trial asked, “Does a faster increase in the daily rate of milk feeds, compared with a slower increase, result in better health outcomes and reduced use of hospital resources?”
Between June 2013 and June 2015 we recruited 2,804 infants born very preterm or with very low birth weight and followed up to 2 years of age. Half of them received faster increments of milk feeds and half of them were given slower increments.
The results showed no difference in survival without moderate or severe developmental disability at 2 years of age. The speed of increment in feeding also did not affect the risk of infection, bowel problems or growth before the babies were discharged from hospital. Faster feeding reduced the number of days to reach full milk feeding and the number of days the babies were fed through a tube, but the risk of moderate to severe motor disability was unexpectedly higher at 2 years in babies who received faster increments of milk feeds.
You can read more about the findings of the SIFT trial in the NEJM.