A recent study on children in NICU at the Rush University Medical Center, Chicago published in the journal of Perinatology has revealed that breast milk can help prevent sepsis in low birth weight babies. The research has showed that just 50 ml of mother’s milk per kg of baby’s weight is enough to reduce the risk of sepsis in low birth weight infants by almost 20%.
Lead author of the paper, Dr. Aloka Patel conducted this study to report the economic impact of human milk on risk of infection and subsequent hospital care costs. 175 low birth weight infants were included in the study of these 23 infants developed septicemia caused by gram positive bacterial species such as Streptococcus, Enterococcus and Staphylococcus; gram negative bacterial species such as Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter and Serratia. This amounted to 13% of the total infant population in the hospital’s NICU.
The sepsis caused at this stage of neonatal life can lead to secondary infections and neuro-developmental problems. Therefore, in addition to the regular cost of the NICU, treatment for sepsis in the NICU with use of ventilation and medications translates to higher expenditure. Indirectly it also means higher costs to the society and economy in the long run.
The study emphasizes on all these aspects and counsels that increasing the dosage of mother’s milk to the infant reduces the risk of sepsis and the associated medical expenses. Dr. Patel says that a small amount spent on feeding human milk through breast pumps, milk storage and lactation care providers can go a long way in reducing the risk to the baby and curb the additional NICU expenses as well.