Challenges in breast milk fortification for preterm infants
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To outline new evidence published from 2013 to 2014 about breast milk fortification in preterm infants. RECENT FINDINGS: Breast milk is the feeding choice for preterm infants because of its immunoprotective properties. However, breast milk's nutrient content is not sufficient for preterm infants, and interindividual variation is high. The variation challenges standard fortification, which assumes a standard breast milk composition. Two new fortification strategies (adjustable fortification and target fortification) optimize macronutrient intake and improve growth. Adjustable fortification uses blood urea nitrogen levels to adjust fortifier strength. Target fortification analyzes breast milk and fortifies macronutrients individually to achieve targeted intake. Its feasibility is shown in clinical routine. Current breast milk analyzers used for target fortification achieve acceptable precision for protein and fat but not for lactose and energy. Evidence of benefits for postdischarge breast milk fortification is lacking. Eliminating cow's milk products and feeding exclusively breast milk may decrease the occurrence of feeding intolerance and necrotizing enterocolitis. To facilitate exclusively breast milk diets, a collaboration of prenatal, nutrition and lactation stakeholders is key. Fortification increases osmolality; however, safety cutoffs to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis are unclear. There is also new evidence that composition and structure of various macronutrients and micronutrients affect growth and development, and might play a role in future fortification concepts. SUMMARY: Recent research focuses on the variability of breast milk composition, its impact on postnatal growth patterns and the usefulness of target fortification. As well, diets exclusively composed of human milk are a promising approach to improve feeding tolerance. For safe fortification, osmolality cutoff levels are needed.
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