Donor milk: current perspectives
Francesca Giuliani,1 Ilaria Rovelli,1 Chiara Peila,1 Stefania Alfonsina Liguori,2 Enrico Bertino,1 Alessandra Coscia1
1SCDU Neonatologia, Dipartimento di Scienze Pediatriche e dell'Adolescenza, Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino, Italy; 2SC Neonatologia, Ospedale Maria Vittoria, Torino, Italy
Abstract: Mother's own milk is widely recognized as the optimal feeding for term infants, but increasing evidence exists of its benefits also for sick and preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units. However, the nutritional needs for appropriate growth and neurodevelopmental outcomes of such a particular population of infants should be attentively evaluated, considering also the indication to an appropriate fortification of human milk. The target is to achieve growth potential for preterm newborns while ensuring good metabolic outcomes and normal neurological development. When mother's milk is unavailable or in short supply, donor human milk (DHM) represents the second best choice and, although somewhat modified by the Holder pasteurization process, it preserves many benefits when compared to formula, as documented by more and more reports, randomized controlled trials, and meta-analyses published in the past few years. Evidence exists of the protection exerted by DHM from necrotizing enterocolitis, while further studies are required to look at possible beneficial effects regarding infections, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, long-term cardiovascular risk factors, feeding tolerance, neurological outcome, and allergy. Finally, the concern that the use of DHM might decrease preterm infant breastfeeding is being raised. Conversely, publications exist showing that the use of DHM in the neonatal unit increases breastfeeding rates at discharge for infants of very low birth weight.
Keywords: human milk, preterm infant feeding, milk bank, breast milk, mother's own milk, pasteurized human milk, fortification
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