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PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of enteral and total parenteral feeding on septic complications in neonates on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). METHODS: Ninety-six neonates were on ECMO between January 1992 and February 1998. Matching for diagnosis and exclusion of neonates with sepsis before ECMO or undergoing surgery on ECMO left 16 enterally fed neonates (cases) and 35 parenterally fed neonates (controls) for analysis. Septic complications were scored using the criteria of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American College of Chest Physicians adapted to children. RESULTS: Both groups were comparable with respect to gestational age, sex, and age at initiation of ECMO. The frequency of septic complications did not differ between cases and controls: no complications, 75% versus 69%; systemic inflammatory response syndrome, 13% versus 6%; bacteremia, 6% versus 14%; sepsis, 6% versus 11%. There were no complications associated with enteral feeding. The ECMO run was significantly longer in the case group (median, 161 v. 111 hours; P =.01) and mortality rate was lower in the case group (0 v. 14%; P =.17). CONCLUSIONS: Enteral nutrition does not affect the risk of sepsis in neonates on ECMO when compared with total parenteral nutrition. Enteral nutrition is well tolerated and not associated with adverse effects.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatr Surg

Publication Date





1485 - 1489


Critical Illness, Enteral Nutrition, Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Male, Parenteral Nutrition, Total, Sepsis