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Century for Leicester's Hospitals in study into feeding premature babies


Leicester’s Hospitalhas become the first UK hospital to randomise 100 babies from its neonatal department into the FEED1 studyIt is also in the group of sites who hold the top monthly recruitment figure of 7 babies randomised in one month. This figure has been achieved on multiple months and there are only a few other sites that have randomised 7 babies in one calendar month.

In the UK, around 8 in 100 babies are born prematurely, and around 12% of these are born between 30 and 33 weeks (about 7 and a half months). The FEED1 study aims to find the best way to feed these babies by establishing whether starting babies on full milk feeds rather than gradually increasing their milk feeds can reduce the number of days they need to stay in hospital. It also looks at the impact these different feeding methods can have on parent-infant bonding. 

Charlotte Yates was the 100th participant to join the trial, when she gave birth to her son Spencer. Speaking about her experience, Charlotte said; “Everyone in the team has been amazing, kind and attentive. We joined this trial because it helps all these little babies. Participation has been something that doesn’t take any time but can change lives.” 

Lead neonatal research nurse and principal investigator for the study at Leicester’s Hospitals, Marie Hubbard, saidWe are delighted to be the first out of 46 hospitals in the UK to meet this important milestone for the FEED1 study. There is little research into what works best for babies born between 30 and 33 weeks, so studies like this are vital to giving our youngest members of society the best possible start in life.  

Our success is down to working alongside our clinical team so that research is part and parcel of giving each patient the optimal care from the very start." 

Consultant neonatologist, Dr Joe Fawke, added:Marie was on-call 24 hours, 7 days a week to make sure that any babies who came onto our unit had the opportunity to take part in the study within three hours of their birth! The dedication that she and her team have demonstrated for more than a decade has made Leicester one of the most successful hospitals for delivering neonatal studies in the country.” 

The FEED1 team at Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit provided a comment on this achievement: "We are delighted to acknowledge the exceptional recruitment of Marie and her team at Leicester. In a challenging research environment, they have demonstrated outstanding commitment and efforts to helping ensure FEED1 is a successful trial." 

The FEED1 project is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme and sponsored by the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. It is coordinated by Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit and supported by the charity, Bliss, the UK’s largest charity for babies born preterm or sick. The 46 participating hospital sites have so far recruited a combined 1567 participants. The overall recruitment target is 2088. 

Recruitment for this study is still ongoing and recruitment ends in September 2024. To find out more visit: https://www.feed1.ac.uk/home.aspx. If you are interested in taking part or would like further information, visit our website:https://www.leicestershospitals.nhs.uk/aboutus/education-and-research/research-innovation/.


Avni Lalji, Research and Innovation Communications Officer, researchcomm@uhl-tr.nhs.uk