Archive for June, 2010

An Exclusive Human Milk Diet Can Reduce Necrotizing Enterocolitis

June 4th, 2010 by Dr. Jae H. Kim (MD, PhD, FRCPC, FAAP)

The premature infant grows at an incredible rate and so plain breast milk is not sufficient to provide enough energy, protein, and vitamins to grow well.

Neonatologists add nutritional supplements in the form of a fortifier which is cow’s milk based. A recent study performed at 12 different medical centers has been able to study the effect of an exclusively human milk diet, one with not only mother’s milk but added human milk based fortifier. This study looked at 207 infants that were randomly chosen to either standard cow’s milk fortifier or a human milk based fortifier for approximately the first 90 days of life. They found that the infants who were fed an exclusively human milk diet had significantly lower incidence of NEC (50% reduction) and even more importantly had a lower rate of surgical NEC (90%).

This study supports the need for increased human milk use in the NICU and provides the first compelling data that use of a human milk based fortifier can reduce NEC.

Sullivan S, Schanler RJ, Kim JH, et al. An exclusively human milk-based diet is associated with a lower rate of necrotizing enterocolitis than a diet of human milk and bovine milk-based products. J Pediatr. 2010;156:562-7