Nutritional requirements and feeding recommendations for small for gestational age infants

David Tudehope, Maximo Vento, Zulfiqar Bhutta, Paulo Pachi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


We define the small for gestational age (SGA) infant as an infant born ≥35 weeks' gestation and <10th percentile on the Fenton Growth Chart. Policy statements from many organizations recommend mother's own milk for SGA infants because it meets most of their nutritional requirements and provides short- and long-term benefits. Several distinct patterns of intrauterine growth restriction are identified among the heterogeneous grouping of SGA infants; each varies with regard to neonatal morbidities, requirements for neonatal management, postnatal growth velocities, neurodevelopmental progress, and adult health outcomes. There is much we do not know about nutritional management of the SGA infant. We need to identify and define: infants who have "true" growth restriction and are at high risk for adverse metabolic outcomes in later life; optimal growth velocity and "catch-up" growth rates that are conducive with life-long health and well being; global approaches to management of hypoglycemia; and an optimal model for postdischarge care. Large, rigorously conducted trials are required to determine whether aggressive feeding of SGA infants results in improved nutritional rehabilitation, growth, and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Before birth, maternal supplementation with specific nutrients reduces the rate and severity of growth restriction and may prevent nutrient deficiency states if infants are born SGA. After birth, the generally accepted goal is to provide enough nutrients to achieve postnatal growth similar to that of a normal fetus. In addition, we recommend SGA infants be allowed to "room in" with their mothers to promote breastfeeding, mother-infant attachment, and skin-to-skin contact to assist with thermoregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S81-S89
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number3 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • AGA
  • Appropriate for gestational age
  • BMI
  • Body mass index
  • DBM
  • Donor breast milk
  • IUGR
  • IV
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Intravenous
  • LBW
  • Low birth weight
  • NEC
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • PI
  • Ponderal index
  • RCT
  • RR
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Relative risk
  • SGA
  • Small for gestational age
  • United Nations Multiple Micronutrient Preparation
  • WHO
  • World Health Organization


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