Gaining and Growing: Assuring Nutritional Care of Preterm Infants in the Community

Acronyms, Definitions and Classification Systems

 Classification Systems to Describe Neonatal Growths



Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia


Corrected Age: Age that child would have been if had been born at 40 weeks gestation




Chronic Lung Disease


Cerebral Palsy


Gastroesophageal Reflux


Necrotizing Enterocolitis


Occipital Frontal Circumference


Patent Ductus Arteriosus


Reactive Airway Disease


Retinopathy of Prematurity


Short Bowel Syndrome


Total Parenteral Nutrition



Apnea is a pause in breathing which may lead to changes in heart rate (bradycardia) and color changes (cyanosis).

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia: BPD is a chronic lung disease (CLD) occurring in <5% of newborn infants. The incidence is much higher in premature and LBW infants, occurring in 38% of ELBW infants. BPD is characterized by respiratory symptoms including tachypnea, CO2 retention, need for supplemental oxygen, diuretics, and other respiratory therapies. Characteristic radiographic changes are evident on x-ray.


Decrease in heart rate


Arrest in the flow of bile. In LBW infants, cholestasis is characterized by elevation in direct bilirubin secondary to obstruction of enterohepatic circulation and decreased bile flow. TPN cholestasis is seen in infants receiving prolonged TPN (>2 weeks) and may result in liver damage.

Chronic Lung Disease

Term used to describe ongoing respiratory concerns, often determined by need for supplementary oxygen therapy at 36 weeks of life.

Cerebral Palsy

Chronic, non-progressive neuromuscular disorder resulting in abnormalities of posture, muscle tone, and motor coordination.


Bluish coloration of skin and mucous membrane due to inadequate oxygenation. In LBW infants may accompany apneic episodes, or may be due to alterations in cardiac or respiratory function.


Term commonly used for LBW infants to indicate decrease in oxygen saturation of hemoglobin.

Enteral Nutrition

Provision of nutritional needs through the GI tract. Commonly used to refer to some method of tube feeding that uses the GI tract.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

Retrograde movement of stomach contents into the distal esophagus. Sometimes seen as regurgitation/vomiting.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Gastrointestinal disease characterized by areas of necrosis of the small or large bowel.


Deposition of calcium compounds in the kidney.

Occipital Frontal Circumference

Head Circumference. See Anthropometric Measurements


Decreased calcification or density of bone.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Left to right shunt through an open ductus (PDA) increases pulmonary blood flow and potentially contributes to respiratory symptoms (increased work of breathing, desaturations, and radiographic changes of increased lung density)

Reactive Airway Disease

Commonly used to indicate asthma-type symptoms in an infant or young child. May respond to bronchodilator therapy. Often a loosely defined term as currently applied to VLBW infants.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Developmental vascular disorder of the retina. Vascular overgrowth can lead to varying degrees of visual impairment, blindness being the most severe. Fortunately, the majority of cases regress with little visual impairment and surgical procedures are available to mitigate damage to the retina.

Short Bowel Syndrome

Malabsorption resulting from anatomical or functional loss of a significant length of the small intestine. Most commonly this occurs after bowel resection in the newborn period (i.e., secondary to necrotizing enterocolitis).

Total Parenteral Nutrition

Intravenous provision of nutrients when enteral intake is inadequate or impossible.

Classification Systems for Describing Infant Size and Age at Birth

Premature infant

< 36 weeks gestation

Low birth weight (LBW)

< 2500 grams or 5.5 lbs

Very low birth weight (VLBW)

< 1500 grams or 3.3 lbs

Extremely low birth weight (ELBW)

< 1000 grams or 2.2 lbs

Small for gestational age (SGA)

Birth weight less than the 10th percentile for intrauterine growth

Appropriate for gestational age (AGA)

Birth weight between 10th and 90th percentile for intrauterine growth

Large for gestational age (LGA)

Birth weight greater than the 90th percentile for intrauterine growth

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Page reviewed: March 24, 2015