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Personalized breast milk for each premature baby

Personalized breast milk for each premature baby

Every premature baby needs adequate breast milk at gestational age. Therefore, in the Personal Nutrition Neonatology Unit of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid, infants who need it receive donated breast milk that corresponds to their gestation time and postnatal age. A solidarity initiative in World Breastfeeding Week.

This is the first unit of nutrition of donated and personalized breast milk that works in Spain. A pioneering program that so far has collected more than 900 liters of donated milk that have served to feed 230 premature babies in just one year of operation.

On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, from August 1 to 7, EFEsalud has visited this unit of the General University Hospital Gregorio Marañón in Madrid that offers breast milk from a mother whose child was born at the same gestational age as the baby who He needs it.

Dr. Silvia Caballero, a specialist in Neonatology in the ‘Personalized Nutrition Unit of Neonatology’; and Francisca Soler, one of the 190 mothers who have donated milk, tell us more about this initiative.

breast milk

Breast milk a la carte

The uniqueness of this new service that differentiates it from other breast milk donation banks is that the milk offered is “personalized.”

That is, the milk meets the specific needs of the premature baby that needs it. This is because the donor is the mother of a baby who has a gestation time and postnatal age. similar to the baby who needs the donation, therefore, it is the ideal milk for the patient baby.

“The type of milk a mother produces is changing. During the first five days of breastfeeding produces colostrum, then transition and then mature milk,” explains Dr. Silvia Caballero.

There are several types of breast milk and, as the child grows, the milk produced by his mother adapts and changes its composition according to the needs of the child. That is why it is convenient for each baby to be fed with the type of milk that corresponds to them at all times.

“We classify milk by gestational age. We have a variety of about nine types of milk that we can offer depending on the type of recipient we have, always having as a priority the baby under 32 weeks, ”says the doctor.

Classification of donated milk 

In the ‘Unit of Personalized Nutrition of Neonatology’ of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital, the donated milk is classified by sections of gestational age:

  • Under 28 weeks 
  • 28 to 32 weeks
  • 32 to 37 weeks
  • Above 37 weeks.

“For example, if the baby is born with 24 weeks, we look for in the stock milk that we have below 28 weeks and give it the closest one,” explains Dr. Caballero.

The uniqueness of the unit

Another peculiarity that distinguishes this Unit is that milk from different donors is not mixed. 

“All lots are always from the same donor and the same type of milk. That allows the child to always receive the type of milk he needs and if he is a very active donor he will have enough milk to cover all the donation that child needs, ”explains Dr. Caballero.

“This could not be done in other milk banks because there the milk that is distributed goes to different hospitals and it is very difficult to agree that a hospital always receives the milk from the same donor. This is the uniqueness of our program, ”he adds.

In addition, this allows a mother to recover the milk she has donated for self-consumption (provided that it has not yet been dispensed) if the said mother, for any reason, stops having enough.

Health benefits of premature babies 

With regard to medical benefits, this project has managed to reduce the incidence of enterocolitis by more than 80%, a disease that affects the intestine and colon and may require surgery.

Likewise, there has been a decrease in the rate of catheter-related bacteremia by being able to withdraw the intravenous route for babies’ nutrition first.

“The l mother take has demonstrated multiple benefits in the premature baby. For example, the prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and the improvement in neurodevelopmental evolution. It also has a protective role against infections against better lung development, against better growth, ”says Dr. Caballero. 

“Without donors, this would not work” 

Dr. Caballero wanted to thank the work of the women donors, which, after all, are the real protagonists.

“Without donors, this would not work. Our country is characterized by tremendous altruism and this is another example of altruism in Spain, ”says the doctor, who does not hesitate to emphasize the generosity of donor mothers. 

“Giving to them is also helping them feel better since they have their children admitted and they are having a hard time. It is like a kind of psychological treatment for them. Feeling that they are helping your child but also other children make them feel much better, ”he explains.

Francisca Soler, who donated for several months last year, corroborates the doctor’s words.

“When my son was born prematurely, they told me that they had to have surgery and that for a week I would not be able to consume any milk, so I started to donate. After he was discharged, I still couldn’t consume all my milk. So I continued donating for four more months,” says Francisca.

“I liked knowing that I could help another little one. To think that you can help another child get ahead with your milk, since your child cannot, it makes you feel a little better in how bad you feel, ”he confesses.

In total, Francisca Soler donated 41 liters of breast milk that benefited many other prematubabies re and their families.

Thanks to the altruism of Francisca and the more than 190 donor mothers, the Neonatology Personalized Nutrition Unit has managed to obtain 900 liters of donated milk, volumes that exceed those of many regional milk banks in Spain.

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