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Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2018 Aug;61(8):952-959. doi: 10.1007/s00103-018-2777-0.

[The value of human milk for preterm infants-overview and practical aspects].

[Article in German]

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Abteilung Neonatologie, Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder und Jugendliche, Liebigstr. 20a, 04103, Leipzig, Deutschland.
Zentrum für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Funktionsbereich Neonatologie und Pädiatrische Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Freiburg, Deutschland.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozialpädiatrie und Jugendmedizin e. V., Leipzig, Deutschland.


Over the last decades the immense benefit of human milk on the nutrition of preterm infants has become increasingly evident. Research has confirmed that human milk has significant advantages for the preterm infant in terms of host defense, gastrointestinal development and maturation, neurological development, reduction of necrotizing enterocolitis, retinopathy of prematurity and chronic lung disease as well as mental and physical benefits for the mother. Computing these factors into a health-cost-benefit equation, positive economic consequences for a national public health system were demonstrated.Therefore, international feeding guidelines recommend human milk to be the first choice for preterm infants, the primary source being the infant's mother. The first alternative is milk from an established donor milk bank. To meet the unique nutritional demands of preterm infants and to avoid postnatal growth restriction, human milk must be fortified with additional micro- and macronutrients. Concerns about microbial colonization and contamination and hygienic aspects concerning milk handling need to be addressed when feeding human milk to preterm infants.Early initiation and maintenance of lactation is challenging for mothers of preterm infants and their caregivers. Providing lactation support from educated staff, optimal nursing environments, and the positive attitude of an experienced NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) team will contribute to successful lactation and breastfeeding even beyond discharge of the infant.


Breast feeding; Breast milk; Donor milk; Nutrition; Preterm infants


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