Women’s & Children’s Hospital is the first facility in Acadiana to provide an exclusive human milk-based nutritional diet for the most critically ill, premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Premature infants require more protein, calcium and other minerals than what breast milk alone can supply.  As a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends fortifying mother’s milk or pasteurized donor milk with protein, minerals and vitamins to ensure optimal nutrient intake for preemies weighing less than 3 pounds 4 ounces (1,500g)1

Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Acadiana’s premier source for critically ill and premature infant care, for years has provided donor breast milk to premature babies whose mothers were unable to provide breast milk.

“The benefits of breast milk are so great. Human milk has important antibodies in addition to vitamins and fats that are important for premature infants,” said Dr. Amy Zeringue, MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist at Women’s & Children’s Hospital and the hospital’s NICU medical director.

The NICU at Women’s & Children’s previously used cow’s milk-based fortifier with breast milk to improve nutrition for premature infants. Since March, the NICU team has been able to take that one step further and fortify either mom’s own milk or donor breast milk with human-milk based fortifier rather than the cow’s milk-based fortifier. Prolacta Bioscience provides the human milk-based fortifier for Women’s & Children’s Hospital. 

Allowing us to provide an exclusive human milk diet to the most at risk and premature infants means that all of the carbohydrates, proteins and fats of our premature infants’ diet are derived only from human milk,” Dr. Zeringue added. “An exclusive human milk diet has many benefits, including decreasing sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis, which can be a devastating disease of the intestines. Exclusive human milk diet also enables our tiniest babies to reach full feeds sooner, meaning these babies are requiring fewer days of intravenous nutrition.”

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics."Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk." February 2012. Pediatrics. 129(3): 827-841. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3552.