Benefits of an Exclusive Human Milk Diet Extend Beyond Reduction of NEC, Finds New Study Published in the Journal Breastfeeding Medicine
Prolacta Bioscience®, the pioneer in human milk-based neonatal nutritional products, announced today that a new study published in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine found that premature infants weighing less than 1,250 grams at birth who were fed an exclusive human milk-based diet (EHMD) not only showed a "significantly lower incidence of NEC and mortality" but also a reduction in late-onset sepsis, retinopathy of prematurity (which can lead to blindness) and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a form of chronic lung disease in infants.(1) Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an intestinal disease and the leading cause of mortality in premature infants.
The study, "Beyond Necrotizing Enterocolitis Prevention: Improving Outcomes with an Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet," suggests a far greater and broader impact of an EHMD on conditions afflicting premature infants than has been previously reported. Dr. Amy Hair, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, first author for the study, and her team performed the largest retrospective cohort analysis to date.
The study included more than 1,500 infants weighing less than 1,250 grams at birth from four large centers in TX, IL, FL and Calif. Researchers compared data from approximately two years before and two years after the implementation of an EHMD in the study centers' neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Infants who received a diet of mother's milk fortified with a cow milk-based fortifier and/or preterm formula, were compared to infants who received an EHMD, including mother's own or donor milk fortified with a human milk-derived fortifier.
"There are published reports demonstrating the reduction in sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis in response to breast milk feeding in the NICU; however, our study highlights for the first time additional and enhanced health benefits of an exclusive human milk diet in infants less than 1,250 grams," said Dr. Hair, who is also a neonatologist and director of the neonatal nutrition program at Texas Children's Hospital. "We know that human milk has immune factors, antibodies and high levels of important fats and vitamins, so it makes sense that an EHMD would reduce not only infection and NEC, but play a role in reducing systemic inflammation which may in part underlie the development of retinopathy of prematurity and bronchopulmonary dysplasia in these vulnerable infants."
An EHMD means that 100 percent of the protein, fat and carbohydrates are derived solely from human milk. Prolacta Bioscience is the first and only company to offer a complete line of Neonatal Nutritional Products (caloric and nutritional fortifiers) made exclusively from donor breast milk.
"This study validates what we hear regularly from hospitals after they implement an exclusive human milk diet, and the reason why an exclusive human milk-based diet is quickly becoming the standard of care in NICUs nationwide," said Scott Elster, president and CEO of Prolacta Bioscience.
Others who took part in the study include Allison M. Peluso, Keli M. Hawthorne and Steven A. Abrams of Dell Medical School at University of Texas, Austin; Jose Perez and Denise P. Smith of Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando; Janine Y. Khan of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; Andrea O'Donnell, Richard J. Powers of Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, Calif.; and Martin L. Lee of Prolacta Bioscience.
About Prolacta Bioscience
Prolacta Bioscience, Inc. is a privately-held life sciences company dedicated to Advancing the Science of Human Milk®. The company pioneered the development of human milk-based Neonatal Nutritional Products to meet the needs of critically ill, premature infants in the NICU. Prolacta leads the industry in the quality and safety of nutritional products made from donor breast milk and operates the first and only pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing facility for the processing of human breast milk. For more information please visit www.prolacta.com.
(1) Hair A, et al., "Beyond Necrotizing Enterocolitis Prevention: Improving Outcomes with an Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet." Breastfeeding Medicine. 2016; 0:1-5