1. Ginovart, Gemma MD
  2. Gich, Ignasi MD
  3. Gutierrez, Antonio MD
  4. Verd, Sergio MD


Background: Previous research has reported that infants fed donor milk grow slower than those fed formula. However, most of the trials used unfortified donor milk, which limits the ability to generalize the results to current clinical practice.


Purpose: To evaluate the impact of early human milk feeding (donor milk and/or mother's own milk) with standard fortification on in-hospital growth of very low-birth-weight infants.


Methods: This pre-/postretrospective study included selected newborn infants less than 1500 g admitted to a level IV neonatal intensive care unit before and after the introduction of a policy providing donor milk when mother's own milk was not available in sufficient quantity to meet her infant's need. When enteral feeds reached 80 mL/kg per day, all human milk was fortified.


Results: Seventy-two "before" (any formula-fed) and 114 "after" (human milk-fed) infants were enrolled in this study. Infant characteristics and neonatal morbidity were similar in both groups. Outcomes revealed that an initial human milk diet with standard fortification was associated with significantly higher early extrauterine weight gain and head growth in very low-birth-weight infants than a formula-fed diet.


Implications for Practice: Very early initiation of fortified breast and/or donor milk feeding can help promote in-hospital head growth and weight gain of preterm infants. Formula may not be appropriate for early use among preterm infants.


Implications for Research: Further large-scale clinical trials are needed to determine the best initiation and composition of enteral feeding for preterm infants.