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  • Updated 03.29.2024
  • Released 07.25.2003
  • Expires For CME 03.29.2027

Parenteral nutrition in infants and children



In this article, the authors discuss the risks and benefits of parenteral nutrition in infants and children, specific nutritional requirements, and the management of infants and children receiving parenteral nutrition.

Key points

• The goal of optimal nutrition in the newborn period for premature infants, especially very low birth weight infants, is to make intrauterine growth rate.

• Parenteral nutrition is a useful bridge until adequate nutrition can be achieved by the preferred enteral route.

• In acutely ill-term infants and children, the duration of parenteral nutrition may be shorter, and the risk-benefit calculation more nuanced, than in extremely preterm infants.

• A multidisciplinary team approach is crucial in providing optimal and safe parenteral nutrition while decreasing time to full enteral feeds and preventing central line-associated bloodstream infection.

Historical note and terminology

Parenteral nutrition entails providing nutrients via an intravenous route when some or all nutrition cannot be provided via the intestinal tract. Total parenteral nutrition consists of water, dextrose, amino acids, intravenous lipid emulsions, and micro- and macronutrients. In most preterm infants, parenteral nutrition should be considered a brief, time-limited intervention until adequate enteral can be achieved. Longer-term use of parenteral nutrition significantly increases the risks of the intervention.

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