Human Milk for Preterm Babies

Neonatal care has made great strides in the care of preterm babies. Thanks to a better understanding of nutrition, we now know that human milk gives preterm babies the best start in life.

Preterm nutrition

During the last trimester, the fetus has a growth rate three times greater than that of a term baby. Preterm babies are born during this phase and their nutritional needs are therefore much higher than that of a term baby. Furthermore, preterm babies are born with low reserves of macronutrients and individual metabolic status, organ maturity, and health can vary greatly. Therefore, milk feeds for these babies often needs to be fortified with additional macronutrients to ensure proper growth and development.

Large variation in human milk

Current standard of practices is that clinicians assume that all breast milk contains the same level of macronutrients. This assumption is wrong as breastmilk content varies between mothers and for the same mother over time.

The variation in nutritional components of breast milk is higher between mothers than within a given mother, but both the between mothers and within mother difference is of clinical relevance. Fortifying blindly, without knowing the milk’s macronutrient content (so-called standard fortification), more often than not misses the nutritional target, leaving the infant at risk of over or under nutrition

Miris HMA™ measures the energy, fat, carbohydrate and protein content in human milk. This enables clinicians to adapt fortification to the actual macronutrient content of the milk, limiting the risk for over or under nutrition. This nutrition strategy is called target fortification.


Target fortification is used to tailor human milk for different nutritional needs by analysing the milk prior to fortification. By knowing the macronutrient content it becomes easy to identify if fortification is needed.

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