Objectives: This study compares stool colonization and incidence of sepsis in human milk-fed (HM) and formula-fed (FF) intensive care nursery (ICN) patients.
Study design: Infants recruited prospectively were fed HM based on the decision of their mothers (59 HM and 114 FF). The incidence of sepsis was determined during the following three intervals: period 1, first 10 days of life; period 2, 11 to 24 days; and period 3, 25 to 38 days.
Results: Frequency of Escherichia coli and Enterococcus sp. colonization was increased in HM infants. The incidence of sepsis was 9.5% in period 1 (5% in HM vs 10% in FF), 17.2% in period 2 (9% in HM vs 20% in FF), and 12.5% in period 3 (0% in HM vs 15% in FF). The odds ratio for sepsis in HM infants was 0.4, the 95% limits 0.15 to 0.95, p = 0.04.
Conclusions: HM feeding in the ICN has a protective effect against nosocomial sepsis, which is unrelated to its influence on gastrointestinal (GI) flora.