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New study shows Prolacta’s human milk-based nutritional fortifiers save hospital NICUs up to $3.4M annually

DUARTE, Calif., June 27, 2023 – Prolacta Bioscience, the world’s leading hospital provider of 100% human milk-based nutritional products for critically ill, premature infants, today announced a peer-reviewed report demonstrating significant annual cost savings that ranged from $500,000 to $3.4 million per hospital after the implementation of Prolacta’s Exclusive Human Milk Diet (Prolacta’s EHMD) for preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

NICU leaders from seven U.S. hospitals varying in size, geographic setting, patient population, and funding levels contributed to the publication in BMC Pediatrics titled “Implementing an Exclusive Human Milk Diet for Preterm Infants: Real-World Experience in Diverse NICUs.” The study found:

  • Of the five hospitals reporting financial data, all realized significant cost avoidance after implementing Prolacta’s EHMD, with savings ranging from $515,113 to $3,369,515 per institution annually from a reduction in comorbidities and shorter lengths of stay among very low birth weight (VLBW) infants.1
  • Implementation of Prolacta’s EHMD resulted in a reduction in the total (medical and surgical) necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) rate, regardless of the size or level of care of the NICU, as well as reductions in bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), and late-onset sepsis — all common complications of prematurity.1
  • VLBW infants fed Prolacta’s EHMD also experienced shorter NICU stays at five of the seven hospitals, savings ranging from $307,916 to $2,520,000 per institution annually.1
  • The study emphasizes that the cost of Prolacta’s EHMD represents a fraction of the usual cost of care for a VLBW infant — approximately $12,500 per infant for an EHMD over a 90-day NICU stay, compared to a total NICU cost of $693,000 to $774,000 for 90 days, depending on level of care.2,3
  • A reduction in length of stay has a sizable impact on total cost expenditure compared with the investment in an EHMD.

“This study provides real-world evidence that an EHMD is not only effective in reducing comorbidities in very preterm infants but also saves money regardless of the institution's size or level of care,” said lead author Jonathan R. Swanson, MD, MSc, of the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital in Charlottesville.

Participating hospitals were1:

Swanson Image.jpg

Although protocols differed, feeding volume at initiation of fortification, fortification goals, and criteria for transitioning infants off Prolacta’s EHMD were similar among the institutions. All seven hospitals fortified between 60-80 mL/kg/day. Clinical outcomes data for each hospital were obtained either from Vermont Oxford Network (VON) or the institution’s NICU database.

“While the NICUs participating in this study were diverse, the benefits and cost savings of Prolacta’s EHMD were consistently observed, including reduced complication rates, shorter lengths of stay, and reduced costs,” said Melinda Elliott, MD, chief medical officer for Prolacta and a practicing neonatologist. “These findings mirror the cost savings seen for years in hospitals adopting Prolacta’s fortifiers, including my experience and published research on an EHMD at The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore.”4

About Prolacta’s Human Milk-Based Nutritional Products

Available to hospitals since 2006, Prolacta’s human milk-based fortifiers changed the standard of care for critically ill, premature infants by providing a proven alternative to cow milk-based fortifiers in the NICU.5,6,7 The naturally occurring bioactive components in human milk are thought to support infants’ immunity, development, growth, and long-term health.8

Prolacta’s products have the highest bioactivity in the human milk industry9 and are clinically proven to significantly boost human milk bioactive proteins and antioxidant activity.10 The company’s proprietary processing ensures pathogen inactivation and the highest level of safety while retaining as much of the natural bioactivity of the milk as possible, compared to other human milk processing methods.9,11,12

About Prolacta Bioscience

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 90,000 premature infants have benefited from Prolacta’s nutritional products worldwide to date.13 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 donor human milk. Operating the world’s first pharmaceutical-grade human milk processing facilities, Prolacta uses vat pasteurization and a patented, FDA-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 Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Media Contact:
Loren Kosmont


  1. Swanson JR, Becker A, Fox J, et al. Implementing an exclusive human milk diet for preterm infants: real-world experience in diverse NICUs. BMC Pediatr. 2023;23(1).
  2. Nationwide Children’s. Price Information. Accessed 27 Jan 2023.
  3. Hampson G, Roberts SLE, Lucas A, Parkin D. An economic analysis of human milk supplementation for very low birth weight babies in the USA. BMC Pediatr. 2019;19:337.
  4. Assad M, Elliott MJ, Abraham JH. Decreased cost and improved feeding tolerance in VLBW infants fed an exclusive human milk diet. J Perinatol. 2016;36(3):216-220. doi:10.1038/jp.2015.168
  5. Abrams SA, Schanler RJ, Lee ML, Rechtman DJ. Greater mortality and morbidity in extremely preterm infants fed a diet containing cow milk protein products. Breastfeed Med. 2014;9(6):281-285. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0024
  6. Cristofalo EA, et al. Randomized trial of exclusive human milk versus preterm formula diets in extremely premature infants. J Pediatr. December 2013. 163(6):1592-1595. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.07.011.
  7. Sullivan S, Schanler RJ, Kim JH, et al. An exclusively human milk-based diet is associated with a lower rate of necrotizing enterocolitis than a diet of human milk and bovine milk-based products. J Pediatr. 2010;156(4):562-567.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.10.040
  8. Gila-Diaz A, Arribas SM, Algara A, Martín-Cabrejas MA, López de Pablo ÁL, Sáenz de Pipaón M, Ramiro-Cortijo D. A review of bioactive factors in human breastmilk: a focus on prematurity. Nutrients. 2019;11(6):1307. doi:10.3390/nu11061307
  9. Liang N, Koh J, Kim BJ, Ozturk G, Barile D, Dallas DC. Structural and functional changes of bioactive proteins in donor human milk treated by vat-pasteurization, retort sterilization, ultra-high-temperature sterilization, freeze-thawing and homogenization. Front. Nutr. 2022;9.
  10. Philip RK, Romeih E, Bailie E, et al. Exclusive human milk diet for extremely premature infants: a novel fortification strategy that enhances the bioactive properties of fresh, frozen, and pasteurized milk specimens. Breastfeed Med. April 2023;18(4):279-290.
  11. Meredith-Dennis L, Xu G, Goonatilleke E, Lebrilla CB, Underwood MA, Smilowitz JT. Composition and variation of macronutrients, immune proteins, and human milk oligosaccharides in human milk from nonprofit and commercial milk banks. J Hum Lact. 2018;34(1):120-129. doi:10.1177/0890334417710635
  12. Lima HK, Wagner-Gillespie M, Perrin MT, Fogleman AD. Bacteria and bioactivity in Holder pasteurized and shelf-stable human milk products. Curr Dev Nutr. 2017;1(8):e001438. doi:10.3945/cdn.117.001438