Data_Sheet_1_Exploring Innovations in Human Milk Analysis in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Survey of the United States.PDF
Introduction: Human milk (HM) is the ideal enteral feeding for nearly all infants and offers unique benefits to the very low birthweight (VLBW) infant population. It is a challenge to meet the high nutrient requirements of VLBW infants due to the known variability of HM composition. Human milk analysis (HMA) assesses the composition of HM and allows for individualized fortification. Due to recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, it has relatively recent availability for clinical use in the US.
Aim: To identify current practices of HMA and individualized fortification in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the United States (US) and to inform future translational research efforts implementing this nutrition management method.
Methods: An institutional review board (IRB) approved survey was created and collected data on the following subjects such as NICU demographics, feeding practices, HM usage, HM fortification practices, and HMA practices. It was distributed from 10/30–12/21/2020 via online pediatric nutrition groups and listservs selected to reach the intended audience of NICU dietitians and other clinical staff. Each response was assessed prior to inclusion, and descriptive analysis was performed.
Results: About 225 survey responses were recorded during the survey period with 119 entries included in the analysis. This represented 36 states and Washington D.C., primarily from level III and IV NICUs. HMA was reported in 11.8% of responding NICUs. The most commonly owned technology for HMA is the Creamatocrit Plus TM (EKF Diagnostics), followed by the HM Analyzer by Miris (Uppsala, Sweden). In NICUs practicing HMA, 84.6% are doing so clinically.
Discussion: Feeding guidelines and fortification of HM remain standard of care, and interest in HMA was common in this survey. Despite the interest, very few NICUs are performing HMA and individualized fortification. Barriers identified include determining who should receive individualized fortification and how often, collecting a representative sample, and the cost and personnel required.
Conclusions: Human milk analysis and individualized fortification are emerging practices within NICUs in the US. Few are using it in the clinical setting with large variation in execution among respondents and many logistical concerns regarding implementation. Future research may be beneficial to evaluate how practices change as HMA and individualized fortification gain popularity and become more commonly used in the clinical setting.