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breastfeeding, human milk, myelomeningocele, spina bifida, vulnerable infants



  1. Hurtekant, Katherine M. BSN, BA
  2. Spatz, Diane L. PhD, RNC


At present, no research has examined the unique breastfeeding needs of a mother and her infant with spina bifida (SB). This mother-infant dyad will face many unique challenges during the prenatal period, postdelivery, and postsurgical repair of the myelomeningocele (MMC). Each of these periods presents an opportunity for effective evidence-based nursing interventions to promote successful provision of human milk (HM). Beyond the need for nursing care during these crucial events, parents need education about the potential benefits of HM for the long-term complications of SB. Although there is no published evidence specifically related to the benefits of HM for mothers and their infants with SB, studies related to the general benefits of HM suggest that the mothers may enjoy enhanced maternal psychological adjustment while infants with SB may experience improved pain management, reduced infection rates, decreased incidence of allergy, improved cognitive development, and decreased incidence of obesity. Further research is needed to better understand the unique relationship between HM and SB.