June 1, 2018

Got Milk? Providing the Right Mix of Nutrients for Premature Babies

Moms do so many amazingly wonderful things for their kids. Breastfeeding is probably the most important thing they can do for their babies. Making sure infants have the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong is the goal of Mission Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Infant/Nutrition (PIN) Room.

“It is extremely important to have an area that is thoroughly sanitized when mixing formula and fortifiers for such a high-risk population,” said Katie Worley, PIN Room coordinator. “The PIN Room staff is highly trained in the preparation and storage of infant feedings.”

The PIN Room of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was started about eight years ago to meet the nutrition needs of premature infants. “Premature infants have higher protein, energy and certain micronutrient requirements than a term infant,” said Suzanne Suprenant, MD, Neonatology, Mission Children’s Hospital. “We take birthweight and gestational age into account when determining what formula or breastmilk fortifier to use.”

These special formulas and fortifications continue to be given to the infant until he or she leaves the NICU, and could be continued up to one year of age if needed, said Dr. Suprenant.

Infants weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces or less are at highest risk for intestinal complications. “We provide an exclusive human milk diet to these infants,” said Dr. Suprenant. “This means that they receive mom’s milk or donor milk fortified with a human milk-based fortifier, rather than introducing cow-milk proteins from other types of fortifiers. We were the first NICU in the state to be able to offer this.”

Donor milk for the PIN Room comes from WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank in Raleigh and Mothers’ Milk Bank in Austin, Texas.

The PIN Room’s four-person staff operates seven days a week, every day of the year. “We work eight-hour shifts to provide a 24-hour supply of product,” said Worley.

Katie Worley is the coordinator for Mission Children’s Hospital’s Pediatrics/Infant Nutrition Room. Suzanne Suprenant, MD, is a physician with Neonatology, Mission Children’s Hospital.

Are you delivering your baby at Mission Hospital? For valuable information and to sign up for childbirth education, visit mission-health.org/womens.