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Breast milk could protect preemies from sepsis

At just 1 to 2.2 pounds, very low birth weight babies are too tiny to breastfeed. But by pumping and collecting breast milk for tube feedings, mothers can help protect these infants from potentially fatal infections.

In an analysis of 1,270 very premature newborns studied at 15 medical centers, pediatric epidemiologist Jareen Meinzen-Derr and her colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital found that 39% developed sepsis and that “as the amount of human milk increased as a percentage of total nutrition, the risk of sepsis decreased.”

Sepsis is a body-wide infection that affects about 35% of extremely low birth weight babies and kills as many as 20% of them.

Meinzen-Derr was to present the results at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual meeting in San Francisco.

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-- Jane E. Allen


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