Background: Human milk is the ideal source of nutrition for neonates. But various practical difficulties present to feed breast milk exclusively in preterm and low birth babies. This study was undertaken to evaluate the growth of both preterm and term small for gestational age infants nursed on exclusive breast milk from birth to six months of age.
Methods: This was a prospective, longitudinal study carried out in RMMCH, a recognized baby-friendly hospital where exclusive breast- feeding is practiced in all neonates. All consecutive low birth weight neonates irrespective of gestational age, born during the study period were included in the study. Assessment of growth parameters included recording of weight (daily when in the hospital and later weekly), length (weekly) and head circumference (weekly) till the age of six months.
Result: Low birth weight infants, both the preterm and the term small for gestational age, on being exclusively breastfed by their own mothers, gained weight and had an increase in their head circumference and length to the levels almost comparable to the standard fetal-infant growth norms.
Conclusion: Exclusive breast-feeding results in adequate growth in low birth weight babies including preterm.