Identifying Barriers to Initiating Minimal Enteral Feedings in Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants: A Mixed Methods Approach

Yogangi Malhotra, Nneka Nzegwu, Jamie Harrington, Richard A. Ehrenkranz, Janet P. Hafler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective This study aims to elicit physician and nursing perceptions about initiation of minimal enteral feedings (MEF) in very low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants. Study Design A three-phase, mixed methods study including a quantitative chart review of 37 VLBW infants, followed by 26 qualitative observations of morning rounds, 26 interviews of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) medical team members, tailored interventions based on the identified barriers to MEF, and finally a postintervention chart audit of 50 VLBW infants. Results The main barriers to initiation of MEF were failure to appreciate the differences between the goals of MEF versus nutritive feedings, inconsistent definition of "sick" infant, indomethacin for intraventricular hemorrhage prophylaxis, awaiting mother's own milk, complicated feeding protocols/algorithms for feeding intolerance, and lack of buy-in from nurses/nurse practitioners. The compliance with early initiation of MEF per the feeding guidelines rose from 25 to 92% after our interventions. Conclusion Understanding the complex interplay of provider, system and patient-based factors that interfere with initiation of MEF may enable NICUs to develop consensus guidelines and targeted interventions and to achieve timely initiation of nonnutritive feedings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 14 2015


  • enteral nutrition
  • extrauterine growth restriction
  • feeding protocol
  • nonnutritive feedings
  • trophic feedings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Identifying Barriers to Initiating Minimal Enteral Feedings in Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants: A Mixed Methods Approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this