Maternal and Pediatric Nutrition

Maternal and Pediatric Nutrition
Open Access

ISSN: 2472-1182

+44 1223 790975


Health Practitioners Knowledge, Beliefs, and Attitudes Regarding the Use of Donor Human Milk in Neonatal Intensive Care

Michaiel G, Antunes M, Shaik S and Turner J

Abstract Introduction Human milk benefits developing humans, especially vulnerable preterm infants. In this population, given lack of mother’s own milk [MOM], donor human milk [DHM] has emerged as a valid alternative. In Canada, access to donor milk banks has been limited, but increasing. We surveyed the attitudes, beliefs and knowledge regarding DHM use of staff at two neonatal intensive care units [NICU’s], given recent access to a provincial DHM bank. Methods: A survey was developed and sent to all staff at the David Schiff and Royal Alexandra Hospital NICU’s, Edmonton, Alberta. The survey addressed knowledge regarding advantages and disadvantages of DHM, attitudes and beliefs regarding use, as well as perceived barriers to use. Results: Respondents agreed that DHM should be first-line alternative when MOM is not available [91%]. Perceived benefits, of DHM over formula, included reduction in both NEC [65%] and sepsis [57%], and improved feeding tolerance [83%]. 35% responded that DHM was offered as an alternative to mother’s milk more than 75% of the time at their institutions. Perceived barriers to the use of DHM included cost/funding [71%], access/restrictions [66%], and parent preference [60%]. Conclusions: Although use of DHM appears well supported by NICU staff, its current use was not in keeping with the level of support. This is despite the availability of a donor milk bank in Alberta since April 2012. The local barriers to use that were identified, and need to be addressed, include the cost as well as current policies regarding DHM use in both NICUs.