HUMAN MILK DIET HELPS PREEMIES SURVIVE AND THRIVE

**Disclosure: This is a compensated post with content provided by Prolacta. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are nearly 500,000 babies that are born prematurely each year – that’s 1 in every 8 infants born in the United States.   When I was preparing for the births of my four children, no one ever talked about what to expect if they were born prematurely and placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). That’s why I think it’s important to provide information on some of the latest medical advancements in the NICU and preemie care. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommends that all preterm infants receive breast milk, be it a mother’s own or donor milk.[i] Narcotizing enterocolitis (NEC), one of the leading causes of mortality among preterm babies[ii], affects up to one in six babies weighing < 1250 grams at birth who receive cow milk-based components in their diets.[iii] Multiple clinical studies have shown that when extremely premature infants (500 g – 1250 g at birth) are fed an exclusive human milk diet, as opposed to preterm formula or fortifier made from cow’s milk, there is a reduced risk of developing NEC. [iv], [v], [vi]

Another study recently published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine concluded that an exclusive human milk diet results in lower mortality for extremely premature infants.[vii] As a result of this research and other leading studies, the use of human milk diets in the NICU is on the rise.

Critically ill and premature infants have special dietary needs requiring higher levels of fat, protein and calories than a full-term baby would need. Prolacta Bioscience, the world leader in providing donor breast milk formulations to hospitals, offers the first and only complete line of human milk-based Neonatal Nutritional Products that are clinically proven[viii],[ix],[x] to improve health outcomes, decrease mortality[xi] and reduce healthcare system costs[xii] of critically ill preemies in the NICU.  By advancing the science of human milk, Prolacta is helping change the standard of care in NICUs nationwide.

If you have or had a preemie in the NICU, we’d love to hear your story – feel free to share it with us in the comments section or on the Prolacta Facebook page.


[i] American Academy of Pediatrics, “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.” Pediatrics. 2012;129:e827
[ii] Ganapathy V, et al., “Costs of Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Cost Effectiveness of Exclusively Human Milk-Based Products in Feeding Extremely Premature Infants.” Breastfeeding Medicine. 2012;7(1):29-37
[iii] Combined NEC rates from the control arms in both Sullivan iv (11/69) and Cristofalo v (5/24) studies
[iv] Sullivan S, et al., “An Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet is Associated with a Lower Rate of Necrotizing Enterocolitis than a Diet of Human Milk and Bovine Milk-Based Products.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;156(4):562-567
[v] Cristofalo E, et al., “Randomized Trial of Exclusive Human Milk versus Preterm Formula Diets in Extremely Premature Infants.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2013;163(6):1592-1595
[vi] Huston R, et al., “Decreasing Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Gastrointestinal Bleeding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; The Role of Donor Human Milk and Exclusive Human Milk Diets in Infants ≤1500 g Birth Weight.” Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition. 2014;6(2):86-93       
[vii] Abrams S, et al., “Greater Mortality and Morbidity in Extremely Preterm Infants Fed a Diet Containing Cow Milk Protein Products.” Breastfeeding Medicine. 2014;9(6):281-285
[viii] Sullivan S, et al., “An Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet is Associated with a Lower Rate of Necrotizing Enterocolitis than a Diet of Human Milk and Bovine Milk-Based Products.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;156(4):562-567
[ix] Cristofalo E, et al., “Randomized Trial of Exclusive Human Milk versus Preterm Formula Diets in Extremely Premature Infants.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2013;163(6):1592-1595
[x] Hair A, et al., “Randomized Trial of Human Milk Cream as a Supplement to Standard Fortification of an Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet in Infants 750-1250g Birth Weight.” Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;165(5):915-920
[xi] Abrams S, et al., “Greater Mortality and Morbidity in Extremely Preterm Infants Fed a Diet Containing Cow Milk Protein Products.” Breastfeeding Medicine. 2014;9(6):281-285
[xii] Ganapathy V, et al., “Long Term Healthcare Costs of Infants Who Survived Neonatal Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Retrospective Longitudinal Study Among Infants Enrolled in Texas Medicaid.” BMC Pediatrics. 2013;13:127   

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