Human milk for the premature infant

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013 Feb;60(1):189-207. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2012.09.008. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Premature infants are at risk for growth failure, developmental delays, necrotizing enterocolitis, and late-onset sepsis. Human milk from women delivering prematurely has more protein and higher levels of bioactive molecules. Human milk must be fortified for premature infants to achieve adequate growth. Mother's own milk improves growth and neurodevelopment, decreases the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis and late-onset sepsis, and should be the primary enteral diet for premature infants. Donor milk is a resource for premature infants whose mothers are unable to provide an adequate supply of milk. Challenges include the need for pasteurization, nutritional and biochemical deficiencies, and limited supply.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / methods
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Milk Banks
  • Milk, Human* / chemistry
  • Milk, Human* / physiology
  • Pasteurization