The effect of a donor milk policy on the diet of very low birth weight infants

Kathleen A. Marinelli, Mary M. Lussier, Elizabeth Brownell, Victor C. Herson, James I. Hagadorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Use of donor milk (DM) to supplement mother's own milk (MOM) in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is steadily increasing based on health and developmental benefits to premature infants. A paucity of data exists documenting the effect of DM use on the diet of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants related to the implementation of a DM policy. Objective: This study aimed to compare VLBW enteral intake type in the first 28 days of life before versus after establishing a DM policy. Methods: This single-center pre-post prospective cohort study included all inborn infants ≠1500 grams in a level 4 NICU remaining hospitalized at 28 days and admitted either before (pre-DM period, October 2009-March 2010) or after (DM period, October 2010-September 2012) implementing a DM policy. The feeding protocol was unchanged in both periods. Collected data included maternal/infant demographics, infant clinical data, and daily volume of enteral intake as MOM, DM, and formula. The proportion of enteral feeds from these sources during the first 28 days of life was compared pre-DM versus DM. Results: Compared to pre-DM baseline, formula exposure was significantly decreased, and human milk exposure and proportion of diet as human milk increased. The proportion of infants fed exclusively human milk increased. Exposure to and proportion of diet as MOM was unchanged. Infants were fed earlier in the DM period. Conclusion: Establishment of a DM policy was associated with reduced exposure to formula, promoting an exclusively human milk diet, with earlier initiation of feeds and no decrease in use of MOM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-316
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • breastfeeding
  • donor milk
  • human milk
  • nutrition
  • premature infant
  • very low birth weight infant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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