Human milk acts as medicine for critically ill babies: Study

Zee Media Bureau

New York: While human milk is the best food for infant, a new study has revealed that it can also work as a medicine for critically ill babies.

According to Diane L Spatz, director of the lactation programme at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP): “The immunological and anti-inflammatory properties of human milk are especially important for the critically ill infants in our intensive care units.”

The hospital has used donor human milk since 2006 for at-risk infants to supplement a mother's own milk supply if it is insufficient or if the mother is unable to provide milk for her infant.

This week, CHOP has also announced plans to launch a non-profit milk bank with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America within an year.

Multiple public health and professional medical associations - from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the American Academy of Paediatrics - have endorsed the widespread advantages of human milk and breastfeeding for all infants.

Spatz argues that under the “best interest principle”, the infant's best interest, not parental authority, should have priority in guiding infant feeding practices - particularly for critically ill babies.

Spatz is the key figure behind a series of articles in a neonatal nursing journal's special issue focused on human milk for sick newborns and published by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

In the special issue, Spatz and her colleagues cover a variety of topics on the provision of human milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including original research articles, ethical rationales for the provision of human milk, and evidence-based methods for implementing particular programs.

(With Agency Inputs)

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