Breast Milk Reduces Risk of Sepsis and Decreases NICU Costs
Feeding human breast milk to infants with very low birth weights significantly reduces their risk for sepsis and decreases neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) costs, according to a study conducted by researchers at Rush and published Jan. 31, 2013, in the advance online edition of the Journal of Perinatology.
The researchers found that the likelihood of sepsis decreased by almost 20 percent with every 10 milliliters of human milk per kilogram that an infant received during its first 28 days of life. In addition, a daily dose of 25 to 49.99 milliliters of milk per kilogram cut NICU costs for each infant by an average of more than $20,000; a daily dose of 50 milliliters per kilogram reduced these costs by nearly $32,000.
"The substantial NICU hospital cost savings associated with increased dosages of human milk are likely to offset the maternal and institutional costs of providing and feeding human milk, such as breast pump rental, lactation care providers and milk storage," says Aloka Patel, MD, lead author of the study and associate professor of pediatrics at Rush. Patel and her colleagues plan to continue their research by testing this hypothesis.