Introduction: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a disease predominantly affecting preterm infants. The administration of hyperosmolar solutions could lead to the development of NEC. The objective of this study was to measure the osmolality of enteral medications used in clinical practice and to assess the risk of NEC following exposure to hyperosmolar medications.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study in extremely preterm infants (gestational age <28 weeks) born between 2010 and 2016 at a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit in Sweden. 465 infants were identified via the Swedish Neonatal Quality register. Data relating to enteral administrations received during a two-week period were collected from the medical records. The osmolalities of medications were measured using an osmometer. Logistic regression was used to calculate the odds ratio of developing NEC.
Results: A total of 253 patients met the inclusion criteria. The osmolalities of 5 commonly used medications significantly exceeded the recommended limit of 450 mOsm/kg set by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP). Most patients (94%) received at least one hyperosmolar medication. No significant risk of developing NEC could be found.
Conclusion: The medications used in clinical practice can significantly exceed the limit set by the AAP. This study does not indicate an increased risk of developing NEC in extremely preterm infants following exposure to hyperosmolar medications. Further studies in larger cohorts are needed to determine the specific cut-off level of osmolality in relation to the pathogenesis of NEC.