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Importance of NICU nutrition

NICU dietary needs

Preemies miss out on the big growth spurt that happens during the last trimester of pregnancy.

To make up for the growth they missed in-utero, preemies need more calories, protein, and minerals than what breastmilk alone can provide. This added nutrition is vital to their survival, growth, and development.

This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends adding a “human milk fortifier” to mother’s own milk or pasteurized donor breastmilk for babies born weighing 3.3 pounds (1500 grams) or less1.

See the graphic to the right for information about the importance of a 100% human milk diet in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Should I provide breastmilk for my baby?

Yes! Breastmilk has enormous health benefits.

Breastmilk is vital nutrition for all babies. Nothing else provides the same benefits. In preterm infants, breastmilk is associated with:

  • Reduced infection and inflammatory disease
  • Enhanced neurodevelopmental outcomes
  • Healthy early postnatal growth patterns

The AAP has reaffirmed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months for all babies. The AAP also recommends the use of breastmilk for all preterm babies, preferably mother’s own milk or pasteurized donor breastmilk1.


Potential long-term benefits of a 100% human milk diet

According to a study with 1,587 infants with a birth weight of up to 2 pounds 12 ounces (<1,250 grams) who were fed a 100% human milk diet including Prolacta’s products experienced decreases in serious complications, including:

  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)—also referred to as chronic lung disease
  • Late-onset sepsis – a serious bacterial infection that can cause neurodevelopmental disabilities
  • Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)—which can lead to blindness
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)—an intestinal disease and the leading cause of mortality in preemies2,3


Understanding fortification

The term “Human Milk Fortifier (HMF)” is a generic product name for a nutritional supplement that hospitals can add to mother’s own milk or donor breastmilk.


But did you know that not all “HMFs” are made from human milk?

There is only one fortifier made exclusively from 100% donor breastmilk: Prolact+ H2MF® human milk fortifier (human, pasteurized). All other products labeled “HMFs” are made from cow milk.

Clinical evidence

We’re committed to supporting research in the study of human milk and premature infant nutrition. To date, more than 34 studies have been published on this topic, 14 of which we sponsored.

When used as part of an exclusive human milk diet (EHMD), Prolacta’s nutritional products are clinically proven to improve health outcomes3,4,5,6,7 and reduce hospital costs8,9 for critically ill, extremely premature infants as compared to cow milk-based fortifier or cow milk-based preterm formula.

More than 63,000 fragile premature infants throughout the world have benefited from Prolacta’s nutritional products, even more can thrive through better nutrition.10

100% human milk diet

A 100% human milk diet is achieved when 100% of protein, fat, and carbohydrate are from human milk.

This diet includes:

  • Mother’s own milk (preferred)
  • Donor breastmilk (DM) if mother’s own milk is not available
  • Human milk–based human milk fortifiers

With Prolacta’s products as part of a 100% human milk diet, the risk of complications and feeding intolerance associated with cow milk–based fortifiers have been shown to be significantly reduced.8,5,6,7

Citations