Over the past several decades, advances in neonatal nutrition have focused on the provision of early parenteral nutrition and the development of formulas and supplements that most closely approximate maternal breast milk. The overall outcomes for infants, including premature infants, have greatly benefited from these advances, but there are still many nutritional unknowns that impact the lives of neonates. This is an exciting time in neonatal nutrition as the focus has shifted from survival and growth, which are still important goals, to effects of each micro/macronutrient on development, prevention of disease states such as ROP, the effects of neonatal nutrition on future health as an adult, and opportunities to improve long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes by optimal early nutrition. This issue focuses on aspects of enteral and parenteral nutrition that are at the forefront of neonatal care: assessing growth, parenteral nutrition components (including alternate lipid formulations), optimal storage and use of human milk (including donor milk), post-discharge nutrition, and the effects of various micro/macronutrients on long-term developmental outcomes. It is anticipated that the study and implementation of many of these novel concepts into the care of neonates, many of whom are severely premature, will be of value to practitioners, researchers, and, most of all, patients.
By Brenda Poindexter, MD, MS, Chief, Division of Neonatology, System Medical Director for Neonatology, Marcus Professor of Pediatrics, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia