Outcomes improved with human milk intake in preterm and full-term infants

Semin Perinatol. 2021 Mar;45(2):151384. doi: 10.1016/j.semperi.2020.151384. Epub 2021 Jan 2.


This review highlights clinical outcomes of human milk from infancy through adulthood. Human milk outcomes of both preterm and term infants, including critically ill term infants (such as infants with congenital heart disease and those requiring therapeutic hypothermia) are summarized. Several human milk diets are identified to reduce the risk of specific diseases. Emerging research of newly discovered components of human milk are also reviewed. Human milk has significant effects on the gut microbiome, somatic growth, and neurocognitive outcomes. Continued research promises to improve donor human milk and donor milk derived products to achieve better outcomes for infants who do not receive their own mother's milk. The promotion of human milk is well-founded on evidence from the previous half century.

Keywords: Exclusive breastfeeding; Human milk; Necrotizing enterocolitis; Neurodevelopment; Outcomes research; Premature infant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing* / prevention & control
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human