Unpasteurised maternal breast milk is positively associated with growth outcomes in extremely preterm infants

Acta Paediatr. 2020 Jun;109(6):1138-1147. doi: 10.1111/apa.15102. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


Aim: Extrauterine growth restriction is common among extremely preterm infants. We explored whether intake of unpasteurised maternal milk (MM) and pasteurised donor milk (DM) was associated with longitudinal growth outcomes and neonatal morbidities in extremely preterm infants.

Methods: Observational study of 90 preterm infants born between 2013 and 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Data were prospectively collected on nutritional and breast milk intakes during the first 28 days.

Results: Ninety infants (39 girls and 51 boys) with a median gestational age of 25.3 (22.7-27.9) weeks were evaluated. MM intake (mL/kg/d) correlated positively with almost all z-scores for weight, length and head circumference at 28 postnatal days and at postmenstrual age (PMA) 32 and 36 weeks. After multivariable adjustment, MM intake and weight z-score at 28 postnatal days and at PMA 32 and 36 weeks remained significantly associated. Infants consuming ≥80% MM had more favourable weight z-scores at PMA 32 and 36 weeks. Intake of DM did not correlate with any growth outcomes. Infants without retinopathy of prematurity had a significantly higher intake of MM (mL/kg/d).

Conclusion: Unpasteurised MM was positively associated with longitudinal growth outcomes. Motivating mothers to provide their infants with their own milk after preterm birth should be emphasised.

Keywords: donor milk; growth; maternal milk; pasteurisation; preterm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't