Effect of a Quality Improvement Project to Use Exclusive Mother's Own Milk on Rate of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Preterm Infants

Breastfeed Med. 2015 Sep;10(7):355-61. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2015.0042. Epub 2015 Jul 31.


Objective: Mother's own milk (MOM) remains the key strategy to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants. We developed and implemented quality improvement (QI) initiatives to improve rate of using MOM in preterm infants of <32 weeks of gestation. The objective was to evaluate the impact of this QI project on NEC incidence in this population.

Study design: In November 2009, we established a QI multidisciplinary team that reviewed literature and practices of other institutions to promote exclusive use of MOM in preterm infants of <32 weeks of gestation. The team developed practice changes that were implemented in February 2010. We tracked use of MOM and occurrence of NEC stage ≥ 2 from January 2009 until March 2012 when donor human milk was introduced. The subjects were divided into three groups: baseline (year 2009; n = 189), intervention phase (year 2010; n = 202), and sustain phase (January 2011-March 2012; n = 254). Clinical outcomes of the baseline and sustain phases were compared.

Results: Exclusive use of MOM improved significantly from 60.8% to 73.6% at time of first feed (p = 0.004) without any delay in feed introduction (median [interquartile range], 40 [26, 75.5] hours versus 43.5 [24, 69] hours; p = 0.96). There was a nonsignificant increase in exclusive use of MOM at time of full feed (from 79.5% to 85.2%; p = 0.11); however; use of any MOM increased significantly from 80.4% to 91.3% (p < 0.001) at discharge. Time to reach full feed and length of stay remained similar between the baseline and sustain periods. On regression analysis, risk of NEC decreased significantly in the sustain period (odds ratio = 0.32; 95% confidence interval, 0.11-0.93).

Conclusions: QI initiatives were effective in increasing use of exclusive MOM at time of first feed and of any MOM at time of discharge and in reducing NEC incidence in our neonatal intensive care unit.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / diet therapy
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / immunology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal* / standards
  • Male
  • Milk Banks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Milk, Human
  • Mothers
  • Pregnancy
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Retrospective Studies