Author(s): Hylander MA, Strobino DM, Dhanireddy R
Abstract Share this page
Abstract BACKGROUND: Preterm infants are immunologically immature at birth. Previous studies have demonstrated that human milk protects against infection in full-term infants, but there are few studies of its effect for preterm infants. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of human milk feedings on infection incidence among very low birth weight (VLBW) infants during their initial hospitalization. STUDY DESIGN: The sample consisted of 212 consecutive VLBW infants admitted to the Georgetown University Medical Center neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) during 1992-1993 and surviving to receive enteral feeding. Type of feeding (human milk vs formula), presence of infection and sepsis/meningitis (clinical signs and positive cultures for pathogenic organisms), and potential confounding variables were abstracted from medical records. Multiple logistic regression was used to control for confounders. RESULTS: The incidence of infection (human milk [29.3\%] vs formula [47.2\%]) and sepsis/meningitis (human milk [19.5\%] vs formula [32.6\%]) differed significantly by type of feeding. Major risk factors for infection were similar in both groups. Human milk feeding was independently correlated with a reduced odds of infection (odds ratio [OR] = 0.43; 95\% confidence interval [CI]: 0.23-0.81), controlling for gestational age, 5-minute Apgar score, mechanical ventilation days, and days without enteral feedings; and was independently correlated with a reduced odds of sepsis/meningitis (OR = 0.47, 95\% CI:0.23-0. 95), controlling for gestational age, mechanical ventilation days, and days without enteral feedings. CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of any infection and sepsis/meningitis are significantly reduced in human milk-fed VLBW infants compared with exclusively formula-fed VLBW infants.
This article was published in Pediatrics
and referenced in Journal of Neonatal Biology