Human milk and breastfeeding in surgical infants

Breastfeed Med. 2014 Dec;9(10):491-3. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2014.0097.


Human milk and breastfeeding represent the nutritional normative standards for term and preterm newborns. With the term "surgical infants" we refer to all newborns who undergo surgery during the first days of life and who are assisted in the neonatal intensive care unit during the postoperative period and then in the neonatal surgery unit. There are many obstacles to breastfeeding these newborns. The "barriers" include the unstable clinical conditions before and after surgery, the period of separation between the mother and child, and often the lack of attention to breastfeeding. Few studies have assessed if newborns with surgical diseases are breastfeed and if human milk is beneficial for their outcome. We believe that the best option is to offer them their own mother's milk through the promotion and support of breastfeeding. A specific program focused on the needs of these vulnerable children should be created. Furthermore the surgical and pediatric staff of the neonatal surgery unit should be informed and trained to increase such a program's feasibility.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding / methods*
  • Breast Milk Expression
  • Colostrum / immunology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / diet therapy
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / immunology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / surgery*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal*
  • Kangaroo-Mother Care Method
  • Male
  • Milk, Human* / immunology
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing