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Formula for premature babies is generally given when the mother has problems in milk production or has certain medical conditions that make it impossible for her to breastfeed. However, the selection of formula milk should be adjusted to the nutritional needs of premature babies
Premature babies are babies born when the gestational age has not reached 37 weeks. Because they are born too early, premature babies tend to have low birth weight and organs that have not grown and developed properly.
Therefore, babies born prematurely generally need more nutritional intake, such as calories, fat, and protein to support their growth and development process.
In general, breast milk is the best source of nutrition for premature babies. However, breastfeeding for premature babies is sometimes not possible, for example because the mother's milk production is not enough or the mother has a medical condition that prevents her from breastfeeding her premature baby.
In such cases, doctors may recommend special formula milk for premature babies.
Formula for Premature Babies
Babies born prematurely are at high risk of complications or he alth problems, such as low birth weight or respiratory problems. When born with this condition, he may find it difficult to swallow and suckle.
Therefore, doctors often give breast milk or formula through a special tube that is inserted through the nose or mouth. Premature babies may only feed directly from the nipple or bottle when they have good swallowing skills.
If a premature baby cannot be breastfed, the doctor may suggest using infant formula as an alternative. The following are some types of formula milk that can be given to premature babies:
Preterm formula or formula milk for premature babies may be given, especially for premature babies born with gestational age less than 32 weeks or birth weight less than 1,500 grams.
This milk contains higher calories, protein, fat, as well as vitamins and minerals than infant formula. These various nutrients are added to support and catch up with the rate of growth and development of premature babies so they can approach or match babies born at term.
After the premature baby is discharged from the hospital, the doctor may recommend special formula feeding for the first few months while the baby is at home. This formula is called post-discharge milk.
This type of formula for premature babies has a richer nutritional content than regular formula milk. Post-discharge milk can be continued until the premature baby is ready to drink regular formula.
Premature babies born at 34–36 weeks of gestation can be given regular formula or transition formula. Of course, giving this formula must be based on a doctor's recommendation.
Premature babies who have digestive problems or are allergic to cow's milk protein can consume formula made from soybeans or soy milk. This milk contains proteins or amino acids which are less risky for causing allergic reactions and are lactose free.
Unfortunately, these various types of soy milk formulas are designed for term babies and may not contain the number of calories needed by premature babies.
Several studies also mention that giving soy milk risks making the baby experience hormonal disorders that can affect puberty. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor first before giving regular formula milk to premature babies.
The length of time to give formula milk to premature babies depends on the baby's needs and the growth and development of his general he alth condition. Some are only 3 months, but some are 6 or 12 months later.
If your little one is born prematurely and you are unable to breastfeed, don't hesitate to discuss with your pediatrician about the choice of formula milk for premature babies that you can give your little one.