What causes feeding problems? Premature babies are often unable to coordinate their sucking and breathing. This can lead to breathing difficulties when they try to feed through breast or bottle. A healthy sucking and breathing coordination usually forms at around 34 weeks after gestation, allowing a baby to begin breastfeeding or bottlefeeding normally.
Are feeding problems dangerous? If a baby is unable to feed through sucking, the problem is recognized quickly and the baby is fed nutrients in other ways. Note that it's normal for a baby to lose weight in the first few weeks after birth, since newborns release water that was retained in the womb. Weight loss is not a sign of malnutrition.
How are feeding problems treated? Babies who are unable to eat through sucking are fed nutrients through one of the following methods:
- Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), providing protein, fat, sugar, vitamins, and minerals intravenously.
- Milk through a tube entering baby's nose or mouth.
- Drip feedings passing directly into baby's intestines.