SIFT summary:

A multi-centre randomised controlled trial of two speeds of daily increment of milk feeding in very preterm or very low weight infants.


Recruitment to the SIFT trial is closed.
We would like to thank all the families and site staff who took part.


Very preterm babies are unable to tolerate nutritional volumes of milk without complications so require parenteral nutrition whilst milk feeds are built up. The best rate of increasing these feeds to achieve full milk feeds without causing complications is not yet known and a trial is needed to determine this balance. Short and long-term outcomes for preterm babies are affected by strategies that reduce infection rates, reduce necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) rates, promote adequate growth, and encourage earlier discharge. Feeding strategies impact on all of these and this study will examine two rates of increasing milk feeds with a primary focus of determining the effect on rate of survival without moderate or severe disability.

Introductory Podcast

Direct link to MP4

Study treatment

Infants will be randomly allocated to receive either a fast (30 ml/kg/day) or slow (18 ml/kg/day) increase in milk feed volumes.

Primary Objective

To assess and compare the effects of a faster (30 ml/kg/day) and a slower (18 ml/kg/day) increase in milk feed volumes on survival of very preterm (<32 weeks) or VLBW (<1,500 g) infants without moderate or severe disability at 24 months of age corrected for prematurity.

Secondary Objectives

To assess and compare the effects of a faster (30 ml/kg/day) and a slower (18 ml/kg/day) increase in milk feed volumes in very preterm (<32 weeks) or VLBW (<1,500 g) infants with respect to:

  • incidence of microbiologically-confirmed or clinically suspected late-onset invasive infection from trial entry until discharged home
  • incidence of NEC (Bell stage 2 or 3) from trial entry until discharged home
  • time taken to reach full milk feeds (tolerating 150 ml/kg/day for 3 consecutive days)
  • growth (weight and head circumference) when discharged home
  • duration of parenteral feeding before discharged home
  • length of time in intensive care
  • length of hospital stay
  • diagnosis of cerebral palsy by a doctor or other health professional (parent reported)

General Information

REC Reference:
Clinical Trials Unit:
National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit CTU
University of Oxford
NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme
Recruitment Target:
2,800 (recruitment total 2,804)
Duration of Study:
September 2013 - January 2019

Contact Details

If you would like to contact the trial team, please email

This study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme (Reference Number 11/01/25). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.