Research Finds Breastmilk Can Help Premature Babies

Iowa City, Iowa — A University of Iowa study suggests breast milk donations are helpful and can even provide potentially life-saving benefits, for extremely premature infants. U of I professor and lead researcher, Tara Colaizy, tells KCRG-TV that premature infants fed donated breast milk were found to acquire less than half of the life-threatening diseases than those who were fed formula.

Doctor Colaizy says researchers found that extremely preterm infants are at a higher risk for neurodevelopmental impairment that could affect their memory, speech and motor abilities later in life. They are also more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases like necrotizing enterocolitis. Dr. Colaizy says there are things in breast milk that help infants overcome those issues.

The team considers extremely preterm infants to be those born before 29 weeks. Doctor Colaizy says the infants only eat a teaspoon at a time and a breast milk donation as small as three ounces can feed five or six tiny babies. The research project has been going on for more than a decade and has involved data from hospitals around the country.