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Critically Ill Infants Can Benefit Most From Human Milk: Experts

Update Date: Aug 07, 2014 11:14 AM EDT

Human milk is an infant food, but for sick and hospitalized babies it's also medicine, suggest a series of articles in a neonatal nursing journal's special issue focused on human milk for sick newborns.

In the special issue of the journal Advances in Neonatal Care, multiple public health and professional medical associations from the World Health Organization to the American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed the widespread advantages of human milk and breastfeeding for all infants. The special issue will be devoted to best practices in providing human milk to hospitalized infants. 

"The immunological and anti-inflammatory properties of human milk are especially important for the critically ill infants in our intensive care units," said Diane L. Spatz, Ph.D., R.N.-B.C., FAAN, nurse researcher and director of the Lactation Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and the invited guest editor of the special issue. 

The special issue would also cover a variety of topics on the provision of human milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including original research articles, ethical rationales for the provision of human milk and evidence-based methods for implementing particular programs. 

"Supporting the use of human milk is one of the most effective evidence-based strategies to ensure an infant's safe journey through the NICU and promote optimal health and developmental outcomes for these children," added Spatz. "This special edition provides clinicians with tools in order to transform human milk and breastfeeding practices in their own institutions."

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