The benefits of donor human breastmilk in preterm infants
MetadataShow full item record
For most of human history, breastfeeding has been the optimal source of nutrition for infants. Human milk contains a variety of important nutritional sources including vitamins, fats, proteins, and immunological components. With the rise of artificial infant formulas, however, breastfeeding as a whole has decreased around the world. Preterm infants are especially susceptible to diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis in the first few weeks of life. Therefore, they have the most to gain from the extra immunological and nutritional support that is present in human milk. Within the last few decades, donor human milk has been viewed as the next best option if mothers own milk is not available. Donor human milk contains many of the same beneficial milk properties as regular human milk including immunoglobulins and human milk oligosaccharides. Studies have shown decreases in preterm cases of NEC and fewer deaths in infants who received DHM. One argument against the use of DHM is that pasteurization can reduce the beneficial enzymes and immunoglobulins present in samples. However, the increased use of human milk fortifiers has been able to significantly decrease the nutrient gap between regular human milk and donor milk. Overall, DHM along with proper fortification serves as the best and most cost effective way to feed preterm infants if mother’s milk is unavailable.