DUARTE, Calif., March 29, 2022 – An independent, head-to-head study from Neuburg, Germany, shows extremely low birth weight preterm infants fed Prolacta Bioscience® 100% human milk-based fortifiers (HMBF) as part of an Exclusive Human Milk Diet (EHMD) had reduced incidences of life-threatening comorbidities and experienced shorter stays in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), compared to those fed cow/bovine milk-based fortifiers (CMBF), offsetting the higher therapeutic costs of HMBF.1
The study, “Nutrition of Infants with Very Low Birth Weight Using Human and Bovine Based Milk Fortifier: Benefits and Costs,” was published in Neonatal and Pediatric Medicine and is the first head-to-head clinical trial of nutritional fortifiers conducted within Germany’s national health care system. The findings corroborate the results from more than 20 peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the benefits of Prolacta’s 100% human milk-based fortifiers, compared to cow-milk based fortifiers.2-15
The study compared whether preterm infants benefited from Prolacta’s human milk-based fortifier supplementation compared to cow/bovine milk-based fortifiers and whether the higher purchase costs were economically viable for hospitals. It found that preterm infants tolerate human milk-based fortifiers significantly better than bovine-based fortifiers, and while the human milk fortifiers entail higher therapeutic costs, they are offset by shorter in-hospital stays and fewer morbidities.
About the Study
The objective of the independent study was twofold:
The study included 23 preterm infants of < 32 + 0 gestational weeks, born weighing less than 1,000 g (2.2 Ibs), admitted to the NICU at KJF Klinik St. Elisabeth, Neuburg an der Donau, Germany, between January 2019 and December 2020.1 The study allowed parents to choose between HMBF or CMBF supplementation; there were no other differences in the remaining nutrition and care.
Based on the total number of events observed in the study, typical morbidities in the HMBF group were significantly less frequent (30%) than in the CMBF group (77%, P = 0.04). Due to the small sample size, individual comorbidities did not reach statistical significance. All comorbidities were higher in the CMBF group. As such, the study concluded the group of infants fed Prolacta’s human milk-based fortifier had significantly fewer preterm neonate morbidities over the entire clinical course compared with preterm infants given the cow milk-based fortifier.
Additionally, fecal calprotectin values in the stools of preterm infants – a marker for gastrointestinal tract inflammation – were significantly lower in the HMBF group than the CMBF group at days 35 (P = 0.02) and 42 (P = 0.03), suggesting improved gastrointestinal tolerance and reduced inflammation.1 Even though the HMBF group was smaller at birth, weight gain was as good as the CMBF group and resulted in fewer comorbidities.1
The study reported that preterm infants given HMBF were discharged from the hospital a median of 75.5 days versus 80 days in the CMBF group. This resulted in a revenue gain of €5958.20 ($6,758.65 USD) per patient in the HMBF group. Making the same calculation for the CMBF group, this resulted in a per-patient revenue loss of €346.00 ($392.48 USD)‚ respectively.1
Likely due to the small number of comorbidities throughout the study, the revenue gain in the HMBF group was negated by the cost of the fortifier. Larger centers with higher case numbers may see a distinct economic advantage due to earlier discharge of preterm infants and decreased morbidities. Furthermore, earlier discharge creates additional capacity in NICUs, resulting in a positive impact on cost-effectiveness.
“The German study reaffirms, in a head-to-head trial, that not only is early fortification with human milk fortifiers better tolerated by the smallest neonates, but it is also the key to achieving healthy growth and reduced complications among these infants,” said Melinda Elliott, MD, chief medical officer at Prolacta and a practicing neonatologist. “Human milk is a complex, dynamic bioactive fluid with a myriad of compounds that make it the preferred nutrition for extremely low birth weight preterm infants to support their immunity, growth, neurodevelopment, and overall long-term health. The resulting benefit of Prolacta’s fortifiers, as part of an EHMD, to preterm infant health and the reductions in the cost of care, as demonstrated in this study, are being replicated worldwide by institutions using Prolacta’s feeding protocol in the first days of life.”15
The major difference between cow milk-based and human milk-based products is the composition — notably, the bioactive components that are unique to human milk. These include immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, milk fat globule membrane, and the wide spectrum of prebiotics known as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are not easily manufactured and thus are greatly decreased or missing from cow milk-based nutritional products.16 Bioactivity is thought to support infants’ immunity, development, growth, and long-term health.17
Prolacta’s 100% human milk-based nutritional products have the highest bioactivity in the human milk industry.15 Prolacta’s nutritional products are vat pasteurized using profiles defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure pathogen inactivation and the highest level of safety while retaining as much of the natural bioactivity of the milk as possible.15 Prolacta's vat pasteurized products retain higher bioactivity than products processed using other methods, including retort sterilization and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) processing.18,19
Prolacta Bioscience® Inc. is a privately held, global life sciences company dedicated to Advancing the Science of Human Milk® to improve the health of critically ill, premature infants. Prolacta's 100% human milk-based nutritional products have been evaluated in more than 20 clinical studies published in peer-reviewed journals. More than 80,000 premature infants have benefited from Prolacta’s nutritional products worldwide to date.* Established in 1999, Prolacta is the world’s leading provider of human milk-based nutritional products for hospital use and is also exploring the therapeutic potential of human milk across a wide spectrum of diseases. Prolacta maintains the industry’s strictest quality and safety standards for screening, testing, and processing human donor milk. Operating the world’s first pharmaceutical-grade human milk processing facilities, Prolacta uses vat pasteurization and a patented, U.S. Food and Drug Administration-reviewed manufacturing process to ensure pathogen inactivation while protecting the nutritional composition and bioactivity of its human milk-based products. Prolacta is a global company with headquarters in Duarte, California, and can be found online at www.prolacta.com, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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