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August 7, 2014

How Critically Ill Infants Can Benefit Most from Human Milk

During World Breastfeeding Week, CHOP Experts, Colleagues Cover Multiple Topics in Using Human Milk in the NICU

Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAANDiane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAANHuman milk is infant food, but for sick, hospitalized babies, it’s also medicine. That’s the central premise of a series of articles in a neonatal nursing journal’s special issue focused on human milk for sick newborns. The articles are being published during World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, 2014.

Multiple public health and professional medical associations from the World Health Organization to the American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed the widespread advantages of human milk and breastfeeding for all infants. A new issue of Advances in Neonatal Care is devoted to best practices in providing human milk to hospitalized infants.

“The immunological and anti-inflammatory properties of human milk are especially important for the critically ill infants in our intensive care units,” said Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, nurse researcher and director of the Lactation Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the invited guest editor of the August 2014 issue of the journal, published by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

CHOP on leading edge of human milk science

An internationally prominent lactation expert, Spatz leads a robust breastfeeding and Lactation Program at CHOP. CHOP is already on the cutting edge of human milk science and lactation services with a state-of-the-art Human Milk Management Center, and round-the-clock support from nurses and international board-certified lactation consultants, as well as widespread institutional support. At CHOP, more than 4 out of 5 infants discharged from the Hospital’s intensive care units are receiving human milk.

The Hospital has used donor human milk since 2006 for at-risk infants to supplement a mother’s own milk supply if it is insufficient or if the mother is unable to provide milk for her infant. This week, CHOP announced plans to launch a non-profit milk bank with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America within a year, an onsite resource not commonly offered within a U.S. children’s hospital.

Articles highlight original research, ethics and evidence-based methods

In the special issue, Spatz and her colleagues from CHOP and other institutions cover a variety of topics on the provision of human milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including original research articles, ethical rationales for the provision of human milk, and evidence-based methods for implementing particular programs.

Additional articles in the issue examine these topics:

“Supporting the use of human milk is one of the most effective evidence-based strategies to ensure an infant’s safe journey through the NICU and promote optimal health and developmental outcomes for these children,” added Spatz. “This special edition provides clinicians with tools in order to transform human milk and breastfeeding practices in their own institutions.”

In addition to her CHOP position, Spatz holds a joint appointment as a Professor of Perinatal Nursing and the Helen M. Shearer Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

More information

Advances in Neonatal Care, August 2014

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