What is Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
Total parenteral nutrition is a way of feeding an infant that delivers nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fats, electrolytes and many other essential components via the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract. This is common in premature infants, as their stomachs and intestines are not quite developed enough to handle breast milk and formula, and cannot adequately absorb nutrients.
TPNs are delivered through intravenous lines, such as an IV in the hand, foot, or sometimes the head. Other methods may be to use a UVC (umbilical vein catheter) or a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line. A UVC or PICC line may be used if the infant will be in the NICU for an extended period of time.
A TPN is very common in extremely preterm NICU infants. It is the best source of nutrition until their bodies are capable of tolerating other feeding methods.