home
RSS
Fortified breast milk helps preemies grow
August 15th, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Fortified breast milk helps preemies grow

About one in eight babies in the U.S. are born prematurely, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Godswill Keraoru is one of those babies.

"He was so tiny," said Godswill's mother Rosemary Keraoru, who could hold him in the palm of her hand. "It was 50% chance that he was going to survive or not," she said.

Keraoru gave birth in April at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Los Angeles. She was roughly six months into her pregnancy,  and her baby weighed only 1 pound, 9 ounces. Extremely premature infants, born before 30 weeks of pregnancy, have small stomachs, and have a hard time consuming enough milk.

Keraoru's son gets breast milk that is spiked with a human breast milk fortifier. It's a kind of super milk, packed with more calories and minerals without increasing the volume The special fortifier is made by Prolacta Biosciences, based in California.

"Studies showed that these very fragile babies could benefit more from total human nutrition," said Scott Elster, president and CEO of Prolacta Biosciences.

The company's website cites several scientific papers showing the benefit of an all-human-milk diet for preemies. Prolacta is a for-profit company, and the only one in the world using donated breast milk to make its human milk fortifier. The company collects milk from at least seven established donor milk banks that provide the collection bags, coolers, dry ice and shipping for donors, but the mothers don't get any money for their milk.

Glen Snow, who operates the website www.onlythebreast.com, which  brings buyers and sellers of human breast milk together, said the women should be paid, because there's more involved in getting good breast milk.

"To produce the breast milk think about it, a mother has to eat more. She has to eat healthier, which costs more money," said Snow. "She has to have a healthier lifestyle. All these choices, these things cost money."

Prolacta says if it paid the mothers for breast milk, women may deny their own children their beneficial breast milk in order to make money. On that point, Diana West with Le Leche League International, the leading organization in support of breast feeding, agrees with Prolacta. But she says the company needs to be more upfront about its financial interests.

"This milk is being used to synthesize a product and for research from which Prolacta makes money," said West.

She wants women to be fully informed about where their donated breast milk is going.

"We strive not to be deceptive," says Prolacta's  Elster. "In fact any mom in the donation process has a consent that very clearly explains what's happening."

"I produce a lot of milk, and I don't want to pour it down the drain," says Hilary Kokenda, a mother of two who makes more milk than she needs for her baby. She donates her extra output to a breast milk bank that collects for Prolacta. Kokenda says she knows that it will be used to make a commercial product that feeds preemies.

"It's a great feeling," she says.

And mom Rosemary Keraoru, whose premature baby is thriving, is thankful and smiling. "It's working and my baby is growing."

Click here for the complete story:

Listen to more CNN Radio Report podcasts on itunes or subscribe
to podcasts.

Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter


soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Chumlee

    Awe.....
    god bless all the premee's out there !

    August 15, 2011 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. L Lothrop

    The problem here is that if they used the breast milk from the baby's OWN MOTHER there would be no need to fortify it and expose the baby to the risk therein. Back in the 70s/80s studies were done that proved a premie mom's milk was different than the mom's milk of a full term baby and was EXACTLY what the baby needed. It would not be a bad idea for premie mom to stay off known allergens, but other than that why mess with perfection?

    August 15, 2011 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SJinCA

      When my own son was born prematurely, I pumped and brough him milk in the NICU. My own milk was mostly cream, a lot fattier than mothers of full-term infants – so yes, exactly what he needed, and he thrived. But many women have difficulty producing milk, and it's a good thing there are options for their babies.

      My tiny baby grew into a healthy, gifted adult. Hang in there, preemie mamas!

      August 15, 2011 at 20:25 | Report abuse |
    • kissakay

      Many preemies need the added calorie boost. My twins did. So I nursed them and pumped every 2 hours around the clock for four months. We had to add Neosure formula to my pumped breastmilk to give them the added calorie boost to help them gain weight. So, it's not they babies wouldn't get their own mother's milk, sometimes they need the added calories from a fortifier. Had I not done this, my babies may have been classified failure to thrive, or I may have been strongly encouraged to go to 100% formula. Instead, I had a pediatrician and lactation consultant that supported breastfeeding with this boost. By four months, we didn't need the fortifier and they continued to nurse until 14+ months.

      August 15, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
    • wookiee

      @L Lothrop: Some moms can't produce milk. I was one of them, I pumped and pumped and nothing came out. The emdia sometimes makes it seem so "easy" to just breastfeed, but there are tons of factors, health, mental, occupational, etc, why some women cannot breastfeed. I had to use donor breast milk and the fortifier mentioned in the article. My 27 weeker was discharged in 8 weeks, healthy as can be. Thank goodness for science and technology!

      August 15, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • MollieMS

      I pumped exclusively for my 23-weeker, but there is a delicate balance between providing a volume of milk that does not add strain to the heart and lungs versus the calories needed to grow those same heart and lungs. My son received my breast milk plus the maximum amount of human milk fortified and still only gained weight at a very slow pace due to the calories burned off just through his effort to breathe. Without the HMF we would have had to use a high calorie formula instead to get the same results, but we would have lost the many health benefits of the breast milk.

      August 16, 2011 at 01:27 | Report abuse |
    • jacqueline

      preemies often need more calories but can't take additional volume because of their low birth weight and small tummies. this is a great solution and so much better than using cow's milk HMF.

      March 11, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
  3. thecrunchyatheist

    Wookiee, while I understand your peril at not producing breastmilk, as I had that experience with my first birth, there are REASONS for that that are not natural ones. Traumatic births, c-sections, medications, birth drugs and interventions... THESE things create the problem of not producing milk. If we want to fix the production problem, we first have to fix the birth system.

    August 15, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kissakay

      I wonder what could've helped me....twin pregnancy, 8 days of labor beginning at 33 weeks, beginning renal failure, breech baby A, necessary c-section. My milk didn't fully come in for 12 days, but we persevered. Thankfully, I had options and support to continue breastfeeding....and I wish that for all new moms. But, what I don't wish, is for "non support" by blaming medical technology that helps moms and babies that may not have made it without intervention, and then guilt if things don't go according to others' ideas of perfections.

      August 15, 2011 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
    • Lettuceb1

      i totally agree with getting medical intervention to a minimum but kissakay is on the ball... it is so easy to go to extremes with the "ideal birth"... is it best to use less pain meds?... yes, i did but that doesnt make me better then a women who used them... i dont get a badge that says i have superpowers cuz i want "au natural"... without medical intervention there would be many babies that wouldnt have made it... the problem is the medical community has (and continues) to shoot itself in the foot... they went from being cold and callus hospital baby assembly lines to people asking us to trust them after we resisted what they were doing when it appeared that they didnt have a woman's (and baby's) best interest in mind... we have to remember to be our own best advicate and not follow their lead to the other extreme and resit ALL medical intervention... that is just as dangerous as too much medical intervention...breast is best but alive is better...

      August 16, 2011 at 03:35 | Report abuse |
  4. Lettuceb1

    this same thing happened to me... with the 4th child i had gestational diabetes... water broke with baby in the transverse position... had c-section... he was a month premature but born at 6lbs 14oz... he started dropping weight... i kept telling the medical staff that "something was wrong" but they said that was normal... none of my other kids had dropped weight and he was dropping it fast... lactation consultant checked to see if there was good latch, he was feeding enuf, was i making enuf milk etc... all checked out ok... 4th day he had dropped almost a pound... a nurse was in the room while i was breast feeding him and his heart/breathing stopped... they were able to bring him back and rushed him to a level 1 trauma hospital... he stayed for 10 days and when he got to 7lbs they said he could go home... all the tests they ran couldnt find anything wrong with him nor did it find any explanation for why this happened... after he came home same thing started to happen... he was losing weight... i took him to the doc and they wanted to put him back in the hospital... i couldnt take it... no one had an explanation for why this was happening... back to the hospital so they could what get his weight back up so that it could just happen again?... went home and started to do some research online... found out about "fortifying' my breast milk with formula... made sense to me... we used to do the same thing with sick calves... i was guessing on how to do it (used breast milk like it was water and added one scoop formula to 2 oz breast milk, that was way too much "fortifying"... lol)... had an appt to have a home nurse come the next day and he showed me the "recipe" to fortify breast milk on the hospital website... none of the docs from the time he was born and i 1st raised my concerns to my own doc NEVER told me anything about it... i started writing down every meal he had, how much he had and how much it was fortified... after a couple weeks he was back to normal and stabilized... he is now a fat and sassy 5 month old baby that hasnt need the fortified milk for several months now.... more people need to know about fortifying milk... in my case i definitely believe it saved my son's life ❤

    August 16, 2011 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Danielle

    The NICU experience for moms who wish to breastfeed is very challenging, since quite often they are not allowed to hold their babies for some time. Pumping just isn't the same and some moms find that milk production declines or stops the longer the preemie is in the hospital. Additionally, the focus is on getting the preemie to gain weight to be strong enough to manage the unexpected early entry into the world and the future "catch-up" the baby will do. For whatever reason the baby needs the extra help in the milk, or needs higher cal preemie formula, thankfully products are available. My daughter, born 13 weeks early, got as much breast milk as I could produce, then had to switch to high cal formula when my production stopped. I'm glad this company uses human milk and hopefully it has a great sterilizing process. I would like, however, for these companies to work on producing more natural and organic products for preemies. Filling them with chemicals doesn't give them a good start.

    August 16, 2011 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. a

    my baby was 10 weeks early. we mixed my milk with the fortifier for 3 months. the fortifier gave him the much needed calories and nutrition. now he is a high schooler and a topper in his class!

    August 16, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sarah S

    @thecrunchyathiest well i had to have a c-section. my water broke before i went into labor. i wouldn't dialate fast enough and i was barley having contractions. they tried pitocin and i started having more frequent and powerful contractions but my babies heart rate kept dropping. they stopped the pitocin but my labor wasn't happening on its own and the contractions i did have were still causing the babies heart rate to drop. since my water broke the baby had to be born before risk of infection could set in. they tried the pitocin again and the stronger contractions caused my babies heart rate to drop alarmingly low, like 75 beats per minute. thats almost half as fast as it should beat. they had to intervene and get my baby out for her safety. i didn't opt for the c-section but it was neccessairy for my daughter to be born safely. medical intervention isn't always the enemy. although that could be why i ended up with poor milk production but at least my baby girl made it out alive.

    August 17, 2011 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dahyaa

    Why can't they use the preemie's mother breast milk and fortified that instead of using random donated breast milk. I am producing enough milk for my preemie who was born at 29 weeks weiging only 1 lbs 10oz. I would have peace of mind if my own milk is fortified. Praise to all milk donor mother out there. May god bless you all!

    October 12, 2012 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Henry Carlson

    You are listed with Negative or Poor Rating on the internet; Your current rating on the internet needs immediate attention. Your profile is not trustworthy and people will avoid using your services. Don’t keep losing business, take action NOW!
    To see a full report of how bad your profile is showing on the internet, send us an email at: getpositiveratings@gmail.com with your name and address and we will send it to you.
    To find more information please visit http://www.getpositiveratings.com
    Best regards, Henry Carlson

    June 1, 2014 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. BernieSica

    http://www.gginza.com/%E3%82%A2%E3%83%90%E3%82%A6%E3%83%88/item_6.html

    業界最高峰のブランドコピー 激安、コピーブランド、スーパーコピーブランド(N級品)通販専門店!ブランドコピー,コピーブランド,スーパーコピーブランド,ブランドコピー 激安,偽物ブランド、偽物のバッグ、腕時計、財布など激安で買える!全部のスーパーコピー販売品物のなかで私達のブランド激安が一番有名です }}}}

    January 6, 2016 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.