South African Journal of Child Health
On-line version ISSN 1999-7671
Print version ISSN 1994-3032
BACKGROUND: Optimal feeding regimens in babies weighing <1 000 g have not been established, and wide variations occur. In South Africa (SA) this situation is complicated by varied resource constraints. OBJECTIVE: To determine the preterm enteral feeding practices of paediatricians in SA. METHODS: We invited 288 paediatricians to participate in a cross-sectional web-based survey. RESULTS: We received responses from 31.2% of the paediatricians; 43.6% were from the state sector and 56.4% from the private sector. Most participants worked in medium-sized neonatal units with 6 - 10 beds. The proportions commencing feeds within the first 24 hours were 24% in infants of <25 weeks' gestational age, 36% in infants 25 - 27 weeks, and 65% in infants 28 - 31 weeks. Feed volumes were routinely advanced daily in 47% of infants <25 weeks, 68% of infants 25 - 27 weeks, and 90% of infants 28 - 31 weeks. Forty-five per cent of infants <25 weeks received continuous intragastric feeds, while 50% of those in the 28 - 31 weeks group were on 3-hourly bolus feeds. The majority of the participants targeted full enteral feeds of 161 - 180 ml/kg/d, 66.7% had access to donor milk, and 77% used breastmilk fortifier. CONCLUSION: This is the first study to survey feeding practices in SA. The survey did not highlight differences in feeding practices among paediatricians. These data could be valuable in the design of local collaborative trials to determine optimal feeding strategies.