Human Milk and Breastfeeding Outcomes in Infants With Myelomeningocele

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Background:In 2015, the study setting instituted an enteral feeding pathway, “PO Ad Lib Feeding to Support Breastfeeding.” Many infants admitted to the study setting's newborn/infant intensive care unit with a primary diagnosis of myelomeningocele fall within the setting's enteral feeding pathway's inclusion criteria.Purpose:The primary objective of this study is to describe the enteral feeding exposure and trends, by type and method, among infants with myelomeningocele.Methods:Retrospective descriptive cohort design. Participants were infants with a primary diagnosis of myelomeningocele between 2013 and 2016. The electronic health record was used to collect descriptive data (demographics and daily enteral feeding exposure). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.Findings/Results:More than 80% (n = 148, 81.3%) of the participants' mothers had a personalized prenatal nutrition consultation and the majority of those mothers (n = 102/118, 86.4%) had a goal to breastfeed for more than 6 months. The majority (n = 144/182, 79.1%) of the study cohort was exposed to mothers' own human milk as their first feed. It is also notable that 80.8% (n = 147) fed at least once directly at the breast; however, infants were also fed by bottle or by feeding tube.Implications for Practice:It demonstrates that with appropriate evidence-based breastfeeding interventions, mothers having infants with myelomeningocele can expect to feed their infants human milk as well as direct breastfeed.Implications for Research:Future research should focus on human milk/breastfeeding outcomes of infants with myelomeningocele post–hospital discharge. Long-term breastfeeding may have an important role in the development of infants with myelomeningocele.

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