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J Paediatr Child Health. 1996 Aug;32(4):296-8.

Breast-feeding in neonatal intensive care.

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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



To determine the incidence of breast-feeding in very preterm babies while in neonatal intensive care.


A retrospective records analysis of all 151 babies with gestational age less than 35 weeks admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a major teaching hospital in 1993.


On discharge 64% of babies were having some breast milk (45% having breast milk alone, 19% both breast milk and formula), and 38% some breast-feeding (17% being solely breast-fed, the other 21% combining breast-feeding with either bottle-feeding or an intragastric tube [IGT]. Breast milk was the first milk for 41% of babies, with 83% having breast milk at some stage. Increasing gestational age was associated with a decreased likelihood of first milk being breast milk (73% of those less than 29 weeks compared to 21% of those aged 33-34 weeks, P < 0.001), but with increased rates of breast-feeding (23 compared to 59%, P = 0.01) and breast milk consumption (42 compared to 73%, P = 0.04).


Breast-feeding rates in NICU are well below those found on discharge for full term babies. Both maternal and staff-related factors contribute to this. More and better education of mothers, doctors and nurses as well as changes to some unit practices could increase these rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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