The United States Department of Agriculture/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine incorporated a cream supplement into premature infants’ diets that improved the children’s growth while in the NICU.

The study was published in August in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Previous research has shown that an exclusive human milk diet will protect premature infant intestines and support their growth. This diet is made up of donor human milk and the mother’s own breast milk and has been fortified with protein and minerals made from the donor milk.

Infants weighing between 750 and 1,250 grams who needed additional calories were a part of the study, which focused on the cream/milk fat supplement given to them along with their mother’s milk. A control group of infants did not receive the supplemented milk.

They found that infants in the cream group had better growth outcomes in terms of weight and length than infants in the control group who did not receive the supplemented breast milk.

Since November 2013, the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital has changed its protocol to add this cream supplement to the diet of infants who weigh less than 1,500 grams.

“This also emphasizes the importance of donating excess breast milk that your baby doesn’t need to a milk bank. It can help nourish our tiniest and most vulnerable infants,” said Dr. Amy Hair, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor, neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study.

Dr. Anne Williams, ND, Lac, said the idea of fortifying human breast milk with added fats makes sense, but adds some advice to nursing mothers.

“I think women should also be encouraged to have a lot of healthy fats and proteins in their diet to increase the health of the milk she’s producing, because what mom is eating impacts the health of the milk it has,” Dr. Williams said. “It sounds like this is an excellent and safe way to keep kids growing and to keep them heathy while they are transitioning into a more normal post birth weight.”

Dr. Williams practices at Inner Source Health in Manhattan.

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