Among the oldest controversies in pediatrics is: when should the neonate receive its first extra-uterine nutrition?
Recent controlled studies by several investigators appear to confirm the growing impression that early feeding—even for the low birth weight infant—can be both safe and beneficial to early development.
"The fetus is continuously nourished via the placenta during its intra-uterine life," pointed out Paul Y. K. Wu, MD, at the recent Society for Pediatric Research meeting in Atlantic City.
"It would appear irrational to interrupt this process at birth and subject the infant to a period of starvation, particularly at a time when the infant is under intense stress," the Chicago pediatrician said.
To confirm his impression, Dr. Wu and Peter A. Teilmann, MD, post-doctoral fellow, conducted a double-blind study of early versus late feeding of "well," but low birth weight newborns.
Thirty-four infants, born at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, were studied.