Partial Enteral Discharge Programs for High-risk Infants
Premature infants or infants born with complex medical problems are at increased risk of having delayed or dysfunctional oral feeding ability. These patients typically require assisted enteral nutrition in the form of a nasogastric tube (NGT) during their NICU hospitalization. Historically, once these infants overcame their initial reason(s) for admission, they were discharged from the NICU only after achieving full oral feedings or placement of a gastrostomy tube. Recent programs show that these infants can be successfully discharged from the hospital with partial NGT or gastrostomy tube feedings with the assistance of targeted predischarge education and outpatient support. Caregiver opinions have also been reported as satisfactory or higher with this approach. In this review, we discuss the current literature and outcomes in infants who are discharged with an NGT and provide evidence for safe practices, both during the NICU hospitalization, as well as in the outpatient setting.