Sustaining improved nutritional support for very low birthweight infants

Mitchell Kresch, Kashish Mehra, Richard Jack, Coleen Greecher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Postnatal growth failure (PGF) in very low birthweight (VLBW) infants is a result of factors such as prematurity, acute illness and suboptimal nutritional support. Before this project began, 84% of appropriately grown VLBW infants in our neonatal intensive care unit experienced PGF. The aims of this quality improvement project were to reduce the percentage of infants discharged with PGF to less than 50% within 2 years and to maintain a rate of PGF under 50%. Methods: All inborn VLBW infants were eligible for this study. Infants with congenital anomalies were excluded. We determined key drivers for optimal nutrition and identified potentially better practices (process measures) based on a review of the literature, which included more rapid initiation of starter total parenteral nutrition (TPN), aggressive use and advancement of regular TPN, and fortification of human milk when the volume of intake reached 80 mL/kg/day. Three Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles were tested. Results: Time to initiation of starter TPN was significantly reduced from 5.5 hours to under 3 hours. Regular TPN provided the goals for amino acids and lipids at increased frequency after the first two PDSA cycles. The proportion of infants whose milk was fortified at 80 mL/kg/day increased after the third PDSA cycle. Conclusions: We found a sustained decrease in the percentage of infants discharged with PGF from 84% at baseline to fewer than 50% beginning in 2010-2011 through 2016, with 23.1% of infants experiencing PGF in 2016. We have achieved improved nutritional support for VLBW infants using the model for improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000672
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 17 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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