Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants represent 1.4% of total births. Sadly, these births have a mortality rate of 23.1%, which is something neonatal intensive care units work very hard to change.1 Infection policies, best practices, and proper equipment are all critical pieces of the puzzle to help these infants grow and thrive to see another day, and then another. There is, however, one more puzzle piece NICU clinicians can use for a complete picture of VLBW infant care, and that is human milk.
Human milk is not only an amazing source of nutrition for all neonatal patients, but also a valuable tool in the NICU for improved outcomes and reduced costs, especially for very low birth weight infants. Many studies have demonstrated human milk’s dramatic impact on necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis and even retinopathy of prematurity in neonatal patients.
Now we have a new infographic to visually demonstrate this information, which portrays “Human Milk: The NICU Economic Story” specifically around very low birth weight infant data. Read on for some startling and impactful statistics which may just help you shape your human milk program this year. When you’ve finished, consider the following elements of successful human milk management and how well they are ingrained within your unit:
Does your hospital provide breast pumps to mothers in need?
Does your hospital offer lactation support?
How do you work with mothers to encourage them to bring in milk?
How do you store and handle milk to maintain its integrity?
Are you using a neonatal enteral feeding system with updated connectors?
Does your warming process avoid waterborne pathogens and overheating?
Are you using an enteral-only pump to meet Joint Commission guidelines?
Do you have a family-centered care program in place?
These questions enhance the value of this infographic by combining compelling evidence with the building block concerns of human milk collection, storage and delivery within a hospital or neonatal intensive care unit.
View the infographic below (click on the image to enlarge if needed):
Looking for more posts like this? Read Infographic: The Benefits of Human Milk
1. Johnson et al (2014). Economic benefits and costs of human milk feedings: A strategy to reduce the risk of prematurity-related morbidities in very-low-birth-weight infants. American Society for Nutrition, 5: 207-212