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Increase in Availability of Donor Human Milk Over Time in NICUs

Associated with increased breast milk feeding at NICU discharge and decrease in NEC rates

Baby bottle

MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- During recent years there has been an increase in the availability of donor human milk (DHM) in hospitals, according to a study published online Feb. 22 in Pediatrics.

Agata Kantorowska, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues linked individual patient clinical data for very low birth weight infants with hospital-level data on DHM availability from the Mothers' Milk Bank of San José for 2007 to 2013. They examined trends of DHM availability by level of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) care.

The researchers found that during the study period the availability of DHM increased from 27 to 55 hospitals. Increased availability was seen for all levels of care, including regional, community, and intermediate NICUs, with regional NICUs experiencing the highest increase. By 2013, access to DHM was seen for 81.3 percent of premature infants cared for in regional NICUs. There was a 10 percent increase in breast milk feeding at NICU discharge and a concomitant 2.6 percent decrease in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) rates for the 22 hospitals that had a clear transition to having availability of DHM.

"The availability of DHM has increased over time and has been associated with positive changes, including increased breast milk feeding at NICU discharge and decrease in NEC rates," the authors write.

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