Karen O'Shea

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2005

Capstone Advisor

Kay Stearns Bruening

Honors Reader

Mary Lynn Hensel

Capstone Major

Nutrition Science and Dietetics

Capstone College

Sport and Human Dynamics

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Human and Clinical Nutrition | Nutrition


Premature birth is defined as a birth occurring at or before 37 weeks of gestation, but it encompasses so much more than just gestational age. The incidence of premature birth has increased by 27% since 1981 and it accounts for 12% of all live births. In addition, premature birth can have devastating effects on the infant if not handled properly. Therefore, all forms of treatment of preterm infants are important. The nutritional care given to these infants is one area of treatment that needs more attention. Little research exists to address the nutritional care, since it would be unethical to do research with such a high-risk group.

The purpose of this project was to describe the nutrition-related problems associated with prematurity, and to use a series of case studies to illustrate the nutrition-related problems and their treatments in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Five premature infants were observed in the NICU atWestchesterMedicalCenter, inValhalla,NY. The case studies provided a real-life example of how nutrition plays a role in the development of premature infants.

The case studies demonstrated that each infant needed his or her own nutritional and medical care plan. Observing five infants does not provide enough information to make any generalizations about the treatment of all premature infants. However, each infant must be carefully examined to ensure the best possible care is given. Taking the time to observe how infants are treated is the best way to find out what treatment options work best, and these conclusions can be applied to premature infants in the future.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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