Provision of mother’s own milk for hospitalized very low birth weight (VLBW) (≤1500 g) infants in the NICU provides short- and long-term health benefits. Mother’s own milk, appropriately fortified, is the optimal nutrition source for VLBW infants. Every mother should receive information about the critical importance of mother’s own milk to the health of a VLBW infant. Pasteurized human donor milk is recommended when mother’s own milk is not available or sufficient. Neonatal health care providers can support lactation in the NICU and potentially reduce disparities in the provision of mother’s own milk by providing institutional supports for early and frequent milk expression and by promoting skin-to-skin contact and direct breastfeeding, when appropriate. Promotion of human milk and breastfeeding for VLBW infants requires multidisciplinary and system-wide adoption of lactation support practices.
Reference: Pediatrics November 2021, 148 (5) e2021054272; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2021-054272