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Parenteral Nutrition, also know as PN, is used to feed extremely premature or unwell babies.

It may also be called Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) where it is the only source of food and fluid.

PN is nutrition that is given straight into the blood stream. It is a mixture of ingredients including carbohydrate, protein and fat and vitamins. It is given to your baby via a special tube (called: longline or umbilical line) placed in one of their veins.

PN helps babies to grow when they are not able to take enough milk to meet their needs. Babies born very prematurely are usually fed in this way. This is because they have an immature digestive system that needs some time to develop and be able to tolerate enough milk to meet their nutritional needs.

Some babies born less preterm or even at term also require PN because their digestive systems are not able to tolerate the milk they need to grow or they are too unwell to tolerate milk.

PN can provide the full energy requirements for your baby to grow. The fluid is delivered using a pump. This allows a continual stream of nutrients to flow into the bloodstream over the day.

In newborn babies it is very common for the vein found within your baby’s umbilical cord to be used for this. A tube is placed into the belly button after birth and the fluid passes through this into the bloodstream. After some time, if your baby still requires PN, another tube will be placed into one of their veins, usually in the arms or legs. The tube in the belly button will then be removed.

Milk feeds are introduced slowly which will run alongside PN via a fine feeding tube that is placed into your baby’s stomach via the nose or mouth.

Once tube feeding has been fully established, PN will be stopped.

The time it will take for your baby to stop PN will vary. Some require PN for a week or two, but others can take longer.

PN may also be used in other occasions when babies are not able or not well enough to have milk feeds.

We will check your baby regularly to ensure the nutrition we are providing is meeting their needs.

The PN we are using in our Unit is called SCAMP (Standardised concentrated Additional Macronutrients Parenteral Nutrition)


If you have any concerns about your baby’s nutrition, please speak to the team.

Page last updated: 28 May 2024

Review due: 28 February 2025