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Tacoma General NICU first in Seattle area to use human milk fortifier

Posted on Aug. 7, 2015 ( comments)

The Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital is the first NICU in Western Washington to use Prolacta, a human milk fortifier that boosts the nutrients in milk for premature infants.

Premature infants require these extra nutrients for proper development, said Lynn Severy, MS, RD, CD, a Tacoma General NICU dietitian.

“It’s the best way to support proper gut development and growth,” Severy said.

Since spring 2014, the Tacoma General NICU has used the fortifier, which replaced another similar product based on cow’s milk. Compared to cow’s-milk fortifier, Prolacta is easier on infants’ stomachs and digestive systems.

Human milk is preferred by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends breastfeeding for at least a year, as well as exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life.

“Mom’s milk is always best,” Severy said. “We’re supporting best-practice guidelines.”

How it works: Prolacta is mixed with human breast milk, which either comes directly from new mothers or from Tacoma General’s milk depot. Nurses mix the two together in different concentrations based on the baby’s needs, as determined by dietitians and doctors.

The added nutrients in Prolacta help with infant bone mineralization and catch-up growth. The fortifier also better prevents necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition mostly seen in premature infants in which portions of the bowel undergo tissue death. The condition sometimes leads to infant death. It’s the goal of the Tacoma General NICU to reduce and ultimately eliminate cases of NEC.

Did you know Tacoma General accepts breast milk donations?

Sometimes mothers are unable to produce breast milk, for various reasons. If this happens, Tacoma General can provide donor milk from its milk depot. Tacoma General also accepts donations of milk from mothers who produce more than they need.

Local women can donate their surplus breast milk to the Mothers' Milk Depot at Tacoma General, which sends the milk in frozen batches to the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital in Denver. There it is screened, pasteurized and used to fill orders from hospitals nationwide. Some returns to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Tacoma General.

To donate to the Tacoma General Mothers’ Milk Depot:

  • Call Mothers’ Milk Bank at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital at 303-869-1888, or toll free at 877-458-5503 for a phone screening with a lactation consultant
  • The milk bank will mail a kit of paperwork and tubes for a blood draw
  • Call the Tacoma General NICU’s lactation desk to make an appointment to draw your blood and drop off your excess breast milk at 253-403-5525

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