Very low birth weight babies may benefit from combination of infant formula and breast milk

Posted on 20 August 2012

There's no doubt about it: breastfeeding your newborn has various health benefits, such as providing your little one with antibodies that are useful in fighting everything from digestive issues to ear aches. In fact, the World Health Organization advocates that moms who can give their child breast milk for the first six months.

However, a recent study published in BMC Pediatrics journal showed that a combination of breast milk and infant formula was more advantageous to very low birth weight (VLBW) infants.

The research involved approximately 170 newborns who weighed in at two pounds at birth. Half of the babies consumed a diet made up of more than 75 percent breast milk. The other half of the newborns were fed less than 75 percent human milk. The results showed that the infants who were in the latter group grew more quickly than those in the former.

"Human milk offers many benefits for VLBW infants, and should of course be the default diet for all such infants. However our babies on average became smaller for gestational age between birth and discharge from hospital," said lead researcher Dr. Tarah Colaizy in a statement. "We recommend that special attention is given to ensure that the amount of protein and calories consumed is necessary to provide the benefits of a human milk diet without sacrificing growth."

Those like Colaizy who helped conduct the study believe that breast milk does not have as much protein, which is associated with VLBW infant growth, as store-bought formula. If you have any questions about what you should be feeding your little bundle of joy, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor. He or she can provide you with expert advice and tips on what and how much your baby should be eating.

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