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retinopathy of prematurity
with clinically proven human milk–based nutritional productsLearn more
Our quality and safety standards for human milk are modeled on the plasma and blood industry
Our breastmilk donors are carefully screened and instructed on best practices; all breastmilk is DNA matched to the donor and tested for pathogens, viruses, adulterants, and the presence of nicotine, marijuana, opiates, and other substances
Not only do we respect what human milk does naturally, we also believe in adding to the growing body of clinical evidence to better understand how human milk can benefit critically ill and premature infants.
To help hospitals address the complications of prematurity, Prolacta is the first and only company to offer a complete line of human milk–based nutritional products for use in the NICU.
More than 63,000 premature infants throughout the world have experienced proven clinical benefits from Prolacta’s 100% human milk–based nutritional products.5
Supplementing mother’s own milk with the first and only commercially available human milk–based fortifier made from 100% human donor milk instead of cow milk
When premature infants need additional calories to support their growth, this human milk–based caloric fortifier delivers
When mother’s milk is not available, this ready-to-feed, human milk–based product offers NICUs a superior alternative to cow milk formula
When an adequate supply of mother’s milk is not available, donor milk is rapidly becoming the standard of care for feeding premature infants
After having experienced two premature births and a recent miscarriage, Christina felt nervous about her new pregnancy. She was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (persistent vomiting and nausea during pregnancy), and she knew something just wasn’t right.
At about 26 weeks, Christina went to the hospital. “I had dropped over 20 pounds and was very dehydrated,” she remembers. “The doctors hydrated me and gave me medicine to stop my contractions, but the baby’s heart rate was really low. After a few days, when they couldn’t find his heartbeat easily, I had to go immediately for an emergency cesarean delivery.”
Crew was born weighing 2 lbs 7 oz. But his weight dropped more than a pound by the next day. Christina was producing plenty of her own milk since she was still breastfeeding her two-year-old son, but tiny Crew needed even more nutrients. Luckily, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) had just what Crew needed to gain weight and survive: Prolacta’s human milk–based fortifiers to supplement mother’s own milk.
“When they wheeled me down to the NICU, the first thing they handed me was a Prolacta pamphlet, a human milk fortifier pamphlet, and a donor pamphlet letting me know that I had a ton of choices,” she says.
During most of Crew’s 67 days in the NICU, he received approximately two-thirds of his calories from Prolacta fortifiers and one-third from mother’s own milk. “He gained enough weight that at 36 weeks, they let him go home small at only 4 lbs 6 oz because he was eating so well,” says Christina.
While in the NICU, doctors found a hole in Crew’s heart—a condition called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). The PDA caused a heart murmur and breathing difficulties. The NICU was able to put him on small, continuous feeds of Prolacta fortifiers combined with mother’s own milk to help him grow stronger while fighting the PDA.
“Now that Crew is at home, the PDA is resolving itself,” Christina says, “It is very small now and he will not need surgery to close it. It should go away.”
Another challenge in the NICU was an emotional one: Crew’s two big brothers were not allowed to visit him due to COVID-19 restrictions. “My six-year-old, Cade, and two-year-old, Finley, couldn’t come with me to the hospital. Only my husband and I could be in there,” says Christina. “At 32 weeks, when Crew got a room with a window, I would hold him up to the window so his brothers could see him from the parking garage!”
Despite facing all of these hurdles, Crew is thriving now. At three months old—or three days, age adjusted—Crew smiles a lot, holds up his head, and finishes his bottles in just a few minutes. Reflecting on the NICU experience, Christina is happy that a 100% human milk diet was available for Crew. “My understanding is that it’s what’s best for them, better on their stomachs, and helps them grow faster and develop better. Formula made from cow milk is harsh on their bellies. Crew really hates formula,” she says.
Just for fun, Christina created an Instagram page to share Crew’s story and ended up with over 16,000 followers. She now has a platform to help other preemie parents. Her advice is to not be afraid to ask the doctors questions, trust that they are going to help your baby, and join support groups online for someone to talk to. “The NICU is very hard, and it’s okay to not be okay at first, but you need to find a way to be okay for your baby,” she says.
Christina is now interested in becoming a milk donor for Prolacta. She is also considering a career as a lactation consultant in the future.
A few years ago, we shared the story of De Onna and her premature son, Micaiah, who benefitted from receiving Prolacta’s human milk–based fortifiers in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). That experience inspired De Onna to help other preemies by donating her excess breastmilk to Tiny Treasures Milk Bank, where it was used to make the same Prolacta products that helped Micaiah.
Little did De Onna know then that, in 2019, she would end up having another premature baby—this time a girl, LaMaia. Due to complications with De Onna’s cervix, LaMaia was born at 24 weeks gestation via emergency cesarean delivery, weighing 1 lb 2 oz (521 g).
Knowing What to Ask in the NICU
At only a few weeks old, LaMaia underwent surgery for a perforated bowel. Doctors placed drains on both sides of her stomach and monitored her closely for severe reflux. Based on De Onna’s previous experience in the NICU, she knew that the right human milk–based nutrition was important for getting LaMaia through her NICU stay and she made sure to ask the staff if Prolacta’s fortifiers were being administered.
“I remembered that it’s really good for development, and the fact that it’s human milk helps with all the recovery issues,” De Onna says. “When LaMaia needed that surgery, I wanted to make sure that Prolacta products were what she was still getting. I asked a couple of times to make sure they didn’t switch. I knew that would help with her tummy issues.”
During her 103-day stay in the NICU, LaMaia recovered not only from the surgery but also from a heart murmur, brain bleeds, and non-surgical necrotizing enterocolitis. She left the hospital weighing 5 lb 8 oz (2508 g), and after some follow-up doctor visits to resolve retinopathy of prematurity and digestive issues, LaMaia is doing great. She is now nine months old and weighs 13 lb (5897 g)! Her older brother and fellow preemie, Micaiah, is also still doing well at four years old, with no major health or developmental issues.
Paying It Forward: Advising Other Parents and Donating Milk
Having gone through the NICU experience twice, De Onna is helping other preemie parents by sharing advice and resources at the hospital, doctors’ offices, and in her church group—she even plans to write a blog and book about her experiences.
“I found [that] a lot of new preemie parents didn’t know about things like early intervention, Medicaid eligibility, and the online resources I knew about,” says De Onna. “I tell them to take it one day at a time. It sounds cliché, but all you can do is try to remain positive … and become friends with the nurses!”
De Onna continued giving back by donating her excess breastmilk after LaMaia was born. “It was important to me because I know the benefits. Both of my babies benefitted from it. So, I’m just paying it forward to other moms,” she says. “Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and working full time, I had to stop recently. I just sent in my last two coolers and felt a little sad … I didn’t know it would be so emotional.”
Evelyne is our first baby. Prior to her birth, I had several miscarriages. My pregnancy with Evelyne was not easy—I experienced many complications starting with a hematoma in my early months, followed by an incompetent cervix at 19 weeks which required transportation to another hospital and a rescue cerclage (surgical stitch of the cervix to prevent premature labor). After weeks of bedrest, my water broke at 24 weeks and I was admitted to the hospital on bedrest. Four weeks later, Evelyne was delivered via emergency c-section at 28 weeks gestation weighing 1130 g (2 lb 8 oz).
My husband and I are vegan and are adamant about living a chemical-free lifestyle. Given this, we really felt it was important to minimize our daughter’s exposure to unnecessary chemicals during her NICU stay. We asked the NICU staff to use chemical-free soaps, lotions, and creams that we brought in and the staff obliged our requests.
Evelyne was on respiratory support until she was 35 weeks and had jaundice but was otherwise healthy under the circumstances. She also had frequent apneas, which were closely monitored and required manual intervention.
The same day Evelyne was born I met with a lactation consultant who told me about Prolacta’s 100% human milk–based fortifiers. Prolacta’s fortifiers were available at Evelyne’s NICU, but only for the sickest preemies.
Since Evelyne did not qualify she would be receiving a fortifier made from cow’s milk. As a vegan, we were opposed to this. I insisted that if the NICU felt that a fortifier was necessary for my baby I would refuse anything other than a human milk–based fortifier. Our request moved up the hospital chain of command and eventually we were granted permission to feed Evelyne Prolact+ H2MF® human milk fortifier, the only fortifier made from 100% breastmilk. It was a long process but completely worth it.
Evelyne was discharged after 81 days in the NICU and weighed about 4 and a half pounds. She is currently 1 year old and thriving, but still quite small weighing only 15 pounds. Her doctor said that she excels in her fine motor skills and was impressed that she could walk with assistance at 10 months of age (6 months corrected). She is a bright and alert baby, with no developmental shortcomings for her actual age. She is truly the happiest baby. My husband and I always tell people she has two moods: happy and sleepy! I credit her current health and vitality to breastmilk, kangaroo care, and Prolacta!
Be an advocate for your baby and follow your instincts! We were polite but firm with the staff. We listened to their recommendations and did our own research. I know that I did everything in my power and control to ensure that my baby had the healthiest start in life. Speak your mind and advocate for YOUR baby!
Research Suggests Some Premature Infants May Go Home from the NICU Up to 3 Weeks Earlier When Fed Prolacta’s 100% Human Milk-Based Nutritional Products; Those with Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia May Benefit the Most
Finding my sales representative
Support with an existing order
Getting products for my baby
Donating my milk