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早产儿是指凡胎龄满28周以上，不足37周，出生体重在2500 g以下，身长47 cm以下的活产新生儿。早产儿具有体温调节中枢发育不全、胃动力不成熟、免疫力低下、并发症多等特点，是一个极度未成熟的群体。人类和动物研究均表明，在妊娠晚期和生后早期敏感阶段的营养不良将会对远期的生长发育产生不良影响，表现为大脑重量降低、脑细胞数减少、运动协调能力降低，另外也有足够证据表明，在关键时期的营养不良可造成大脑结构和功能的永久性损害。鉴于早产儿特殊的生理特点，营养支持对早产儿的生长发育起到十分重要的作用。
Premature refers to a live birth infant ,whose gestation period is between 28 weeks and 37 weeks; birth weight is less than 2500 g; born height is below 47 cm. Premature infant is an extremely immature group, always accompanying with hypoplasia in temperature-regulating center, immature in stomach function, low immunity and some complications. In reluctant experiments on human and animals, it’s acknowledged that malnutrition occurring at the initial phase and maturation phase will be harmful for further growth and development, characterized by reduction of brain weight or an amount of brain cells, and weak coordination function. By the way, it’s proved by enough evidence that the damage on the brain structure and function caused by malnutrition in critical period is permanent and irreversible. In consideration of the particularity of physiological needs of premature, nutrition intervention will play a very important role in the growth and development of premature infants.