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Medela Promotes Human Milk Consumption in NICUs to Address Health Risks Associated with Prematurity and Improve Infant Health

MCHENRY, Ill., Sept. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Medela today announced a call to share best practices to raise awareness about premature births and effective efforts to support human milk consumption with the goal of improving infant health. One in nine babies in the United States is born prematurely—more than in most developed countries.i Content of human milk can substantially improve outcomes for critically compromised and premature infants (preemies). Outstanding neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the country understand that a mother's breastmilk gives the baby one of the best health outcomes available. To recognize the critical role that NICU professionals play in providing access to human milk, Medela is looking for NICU facilities to share their best practices in facilitating human milk consumption across the United States.

Premature birth costs society more than $26 billion a yearii and takes a high toll on families. Premature babies, born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, are at risk of both moderate and severe health problems, as well as lifelong disabilities. Premature birth is the number one contributor to infant mortality. Human milk acts much like medicine to premature babies who are vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an intestinal disease associated with a high mortality rate in the NICU, from merely being born too early.

Research shows that:

  • Length of stay was reduced from an average of 88 days to 73 days for babies fed more than 50ml/kg of breastmilk daily versus preterm formula.iii
  • Increasing average daily doses of human milk from less than 25 to less than or equal to 50 ml/kg/day for Very Low Birth Weight babies decreased NICU costs incurred by the hospital by $31,514 per infant.iv
  • "NICU nurses and physicians are heroes to premature babies and their families by helping moms produce and deliver breastmilk to their newborns," said Carolin Archibald, president of Medela, Inc. "Medela products are designed to establish mom's milk supply and preserve the integrity of the breastmilk. We hope that by sharing successes among NICU teams, more premature babies will be given a fighting chance."

    NICUs are preemies' first homes, where they are cared for by specially trained physicians, nurses and physician assistants. NICU staff not only care for the preemies, but provide much needed guidance and support to the parents as well. Medela will honor two facilities among those that submit their best practice summaries highlighting their successful approach to increasing human milk consumption in their facility using Medela products. The first place winner will receive $10,000 in Medela NICU products, and a runner up will receive $5,000 in products.

    Best Practices Program Guidelines

    Medela's NICU recognition program will ask U.S.-based facilities to share success stories related to human milk consumption. Submissions should include the challenges addressed, goals, outcomes and how they were achieved to support human milk consumption across the breastfeeding journey, including:

  • Initiate and maintain—establishing mom's milk supply for the long term.
  • Collect and protect—collecting breastmilk from mom and storing it without diminishing its nutritional value and without contamination.
  • Prep and feed—working to prepare breastmilk efficiently for feeding to baby and without contamination.
  • Mom/baby connection—helping mom and baby establish breastfeeding relationship.  
  • The deadline for submissions is October 18. Winners will be announced November 18 during National Prematurity Awareness Month on and will be featured in Human Milk Quarterly. Winners will be notified by November 15.

    About Medela
    Medela provides the most technologically advanced, superior-quality breastpumps and breastfeeding accessories to nursing mothers around the world. A longtime champion of breastfeeding and a Healthy People 2020 Consortium member, Medela is the only company to develop products based on research by the world's leading lactation experts. As a result, Medela's breastpumps are the number one choice of healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities worldwide, including more than 80 percent of U.S. hospitals.

    Medela has developed an extensive line of products to meet the diverse needs of nursing mothers. These products include hospital-grade, double- and single-electric and manual breastpumps; breastfeeding accessories such as pump cleaning products, breast care products and specialty feeding devices; and maternity and nursing intimate apparel.

    Founded in 1961 by Olle Larsson in Zug, Switzerland, Medela continues to grow under the ownership of the Larsson family. Medela serves customers through a worldwide network of distribution partners in more than 90 countries and its 15 subsidiaries in the United States, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Poland, China and Spain. The company entered the United States more than 30 years ago; its U.S. headquarters are located in McHenry, Illinois.i March of Dimes 2012 Premature Birth Report Card. Accessed September 16, 2013. ii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Premature Birth. Accessed September 16, 2013.iii J Perinatol. 2013 Jan 31. doi: 10.1038/jp.2013.2. "Impact of early human milk on sepsis and health-care costs in very low birth weight infants."Patel AL, Johnson TJ, Engstrom JL, Fogg LF, Jegier BJ, Bigger HR, Meier PP.iv Schanler, R.J., "Feeding Strategies for Premature Infants:  Beneficial Outcomes of Feeding Fortified Human Milk Versus Preterm Formula." Pediatrics. Vol. 103, No. 6 June 1999. 

    Media Contact:
    Claudette Yasell

    SOURCE Medela
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