Unique Breast Milk Lab Helps Preemies

One in eight. That's how many babies are born prematurely every year according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Methodist Women's Hospital has created a special breast milk lab to make sure their tiniest patients get the best start. Serese Cole shows us how it works.

Holly Dorathy has spent the last month at Methodist's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two very good reasons: Weston and Brenna.
They arrived a bit too soon.

"It was a little scary at first, but you get through it." said Dorathy.

Part of getting through it is helping her babies get bigger and stronger.

"Breast milk can help do that. We all know breast milk is the best milk for infants, but babies in the NICU need a little something extra."

Jessica Magilton is a Clinical Dietitian with Methodist Women's Center and says, "They have a little bit more needs: extra calorie needs, extra protein needs some vitamins and minerals."

That's where The Centralized Fortification Lab comes in. A mother's breast milk is securely stored here each day. A technician measures then adds special nutrition to the milk for growth, brain development or bone strength and it's specifically made for each baby according to their needs.

The lab processes milk for about 20 babies a day. That's about half of the babies in the NICU and medical staff and parents agree it's working.

"It's actually been show to decrease the risk of infections whether those are gastrointestinal infections or lung infections." said Magilton.

"They get the benefit of the breast milk, plus the extra calories that they need to grow. Because he was losing so much weight, so that was scary. So then to see him start gaining again after fortification, it was a gratifying experience, " added Dorathy.

Little Weston now weighs more than seven pounds and Brenna's healthy too, which means their mom is twice as happy.

While Methodist Women's Hospital is the only NICU in the Metro that has the Centralized Fortification Lab, Magilton there says more hospitals around the county are doing this. And great news to report, Baby Weston and Baby Brenna are now both home.

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