Neonatal Conference – Donor Breast Milk in the care of the Neonate

5th May 2010

Hosted by The Human Milk Bank and the Paediatric Department, delegates attended from over 25 hospitals from across the UK and Spain. Neonatologists, paediatricians, immunologists and health professionals interested in infant feeding assembled to exchange knowledge and discuss and debate the case for the usage of donor breast milk in neonatal care. The debate highlighted the need for further research into the potential benefits of donor breast milk to enable the development of a consensus among senior clinicians regarding its use.

Consultant neonatologist Colin Morgan explained the rationale for feeding premature babies donor breast milk. Senior lecturer Mario O. Labeta, spoke about his ongoing scientific research into human milk as a rich and novel source of regulators of microbial recognition by Toll-like receptors. Associate professor of immunology Antoni Gaya presented his work on lacto engineering – the manipulation of the precise macronutrient composition of human milk. Neena Modi, Professor in neonatology discussed the evidence base for using donor breast milk and the need for further research. Consultant neonatologist Camilla Kingdon described her involvement in initiating a profound change in breast milk provision for very low birth weight newborns in a tertiary London neonatal unit. Beth Shaw from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) explained the methodology applied in their technical analysis when undertaking the production of a guideline for the safe operation of Human Milk Banks. After careful consideration of the evidence available NICE published their guideline in February 2010 and set national standards for obtaining and processing donor breast milk.

The Human Milk Bank in Chester led by Lynda Coulter MBE, has been in operation since 2003 and contributes significantly to the health care provided to premature, sick and other vulnerable infants by providing valuable nutritional support. The service has been extremely successful and has now grown to a size where it collects and processes on average 1000 litres of milk per year and supplies many neonatal units across the UK.

The conference was supported by a range of exhibitors associated with milk banking – ACE Intermed, Ardo Medical, Intavent-Orthofix, Miris, Sterifeed, SecuriCare, Elsiever and Benecare.

The event was an important opportunity to learn from recognized experts in their field and summarized the need to embrace newer treatments and technologies.

Consultant paediatricians Dr Stephen Brearey, Dr John Gibbs and Dr Ravi Jayaram and all of the Human Milk Bank team would like to thank all delegates and speakers who contributed to the event. The enthusiasm and participation of everybody involved ensured that the day was a great success.