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Human milk fat improves growth in premature infants
Date:8/14/2014

HOUSTON (August 15, 2014) For premature infants, adequate growth while in the neonatal intensive care unit is an indicator of better long-term health and developmental outcomes. Researchers at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have now successfully incorporated a cream supplement into premature infants' diets that improved their growth outcomes in the NICU. The report appears today in the Journal of Pediatrics.

"For premature babies who weigh less than 1,000 grams (about 2 pounds, 2 ounces), one of the problems is that their lungs and other organs are still developing when they are born. If the infant gains weight and increases in length at a good rate while in the NICU, this helps improve their outcomes," said Dr. Amy Hair, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor, neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital and first author of the study.

Previous research has shown that an exclusive human milk diet protects the intestines of premature infants and supports their growth. This diet consists of mothers' own breast milk or donor human milk, as well as a fortifier consisting of protein and minerals made from the donor milk.

In this study, researchers sought a way to optimize this growth in very small infants (those who weigh between 750 and 1,250 grams) who need additional calories. Because infants are already receiving enough protein from the fortifier, another way to help them grow is by giving them fat. One of the byproducts of pasteurizing donor milk is milk fat, also referred to as a cream supplement.

In this study, researchers compared the growth outcomes of infants who received the exclusive human milk diet and the cream supplement to infants who received just the exclusive human milk diet. They found that infants in the cream group had better growth outcomes in terms of weight and length than infants in the control group.

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Contact: Dipali Pathak
pathak@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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