The value of breastfeeding

CPQCC stands by the global consensus that breastfeeding is the optimal source of nutrition for infants in their first year of life. Breastfeeding is especially essential for the very low birth weight (VLBW) infant population that our member NICUs treat. Despite current intensive care efforts, 38% of very low birth weight babies across California leave the NICU having fallen one full standard deviation or more from their initial birth weight parameters, compromising their future growth and neurodevelopmental potential later in childhood. This rate only increases for the most vulnerable infants, with more than half of babies born at less than 1,000 grams experiencing this same sub-optimal growth. Breastmilk will play a critical role in addressing this issue.

This October, CPQCC will launch Grow, Babies, Grow!, our sixth IHI-style QI Collaborative. Grow, Babies, Grow! aims to help NICUs optimize the growth and nutrition of VLBW infants, with the goal of reducing growth failure at discharge.  We will also release an update to our “Nutritional Support of the VLBW Infant” toolkit which outlines evidence-based best practices for establishing and continuing access to breastmilk for VLBW infants.  We hope that these efforts help to underscore our commitment to promoting breastmilk nutrition and other best practices that are backed by science.

Says Dr. Nancy E. Wight, Neonatologist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and lead author of the revised toolkit, “inconsistent and inaccurate information and lack of support by health care professionals have been cited as reasons for breastfeeding failure among many groups of mothers. This needs to change. We should equip obstetric, perinatal, neonatal and pediatric professionals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to effectively support the provision of breastmilk to the VLBW infant. Doing so will have a profound impact on the nutrition and long-term health of these infants.”