Infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) often require feeding tubes (FT) for weeks to months. Because FTs are in near constant contact with human milk and/or formula, rapid and extensive bacterial growth is possible. Due to their immature immunologic and gastrointestinal (GI) systems, infants may be at significant health risk due to FT colonization.
The purpose of this review was to describe and summarize the evidence regarding FT bacterial colonization in infants and identify gaps needing further investigation.
In 10 studies they found evidence that neonatal FTs may contain high quantities of potentially pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacteria and longer dwell times may increase the bacterial load.

Leslie A. Parker1 *, Marina Magalhães1 , Katelyn Desorcy-Scherer1 , Monica Torrez Lamberti2 , Graciela L. Lorca2 and Josef Neu3
1 Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science, College of Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States,
2 Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, Genetics Institute, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States,
3 Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States