Human Milk Feedings in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

  • Paula P. Meier
  • Aloka L. Patel
  • Harold R. Bigger
  • Yimin Chen
  • Tricia J. Johnson
  • Beverly Rossman
  • Janet L. Engstrom
Living reference work entry


Human milk (HM) from the infant’s own mother reduces the risk of prematurity- and other NICU-acquired morbidities in a dose–response relationship, with higher doses of HM received during critical exposure periods in the NICU hospitalization providing the greatest risk reduction. This protection is provided through a unique array of nutritive, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, gut-colonizing, growth-promoting, and epigenetic components that function synergistically to optimize infant health and reduce costs during and after the NICU hospitalization. This chapter reviews the clinical outcomes of HM feeding for premature and sick infants, describes the mechanisms by which this protection is provided, and depicts common clinical scenarios that compromise the caloric content in pumped HM that is fed in the NICU. Emphasis throughout is on integrating the underlying scientific principles with examples of evidence-based best practices for the use of HM in the NICU.


Premature Infant Human Milk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit VLBW Infant Breast Pump 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations


Appropriate for gestational age


Chronic lung disease


Extremely low birthweight (<1,000 g)


Human milk


Human milk fortifier


Necrotizing enterocolitis


Neonatal intensive care unit


Postnatal growth failure


Post menstrual age


Retinopathy of prematurity


United States dollars


Very low birthweight (<1,500 g)


Calories per ounce


Grams per liter


Kilocalories per liter




Milliliters per kilogram per day


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula P. Meier
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aloka L. Patel
    • 1
  • Harold R. Bigger
    • 1
  • Yimin Chen
    • 3
  • Tricia J. Johnson
    • 4
  • Beverly Rossman
    • 2
  • Janet L. Engstrom
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Section of NeonatologyRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Women, Children and Family NursingRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Clinical NutritionRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health Systems ManagementRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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