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Lisa Black

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages support by hospital providers to assist mothers in making breastmilk for their very low birth weight infants in a new clinical report. The report discusses the short- and long-term health benefits, as well as the challenges, in breastfeeding these infants. The report, “Promoting Human Milk and Breastfeeding for the Very Low Birth Weight Infant,” published in the November 2021 Pediatrics (published online Oct. 11), reiterates that mother’s own breastmilk is the optimal nutrition for very low birth weight infants. Babies fed their mother’s own breastmilk have lower risks of significant complications of prematurity that include necrotizing enterocolitis, late-onset sepsis, chronic lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity, and neurodevelopmental impairment. The report recommends use of pasteurized donor milk feeding when a mother’s own milk is not available, is insufficient, or is contraindicated. According to AAP, multidisciplinary teams in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can play a critical role in ongoing lactation support by providing education, institutional supports for milk provision, such as encouragement of early initiation and frequent milk expression, ready pump access, and skin to skin care.

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