Fat-Modified Breast Milk Resolves Chylous Pleural Effusion in Infants With Postsurgical Chylothorax but Is Associated With Slow Growth

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Abstract

Background:

Chylothorax occurs in ˜3%-5% of infants undergoing cardiac surgery. Standard treatment requires discontinuation of breast milk feeding, due to the abundance of long-chain triglycerides and transition to a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT)-based formula.

Objective:

To determine the effectiveness of fat-modified breast milk (MBM) for the treatment of chylothorax compared with MCT formula.

Materials and Methods:

Infants diagnosed with chylothorax following surgery for congenital heart disease between January 2008 and December 2009 at The Hospital for Sick Children were eligible for this nonrandomized open-label study. Treatment infants (n = 8) received mother's own milk that had been modified by removing the fat layer via centrifugation and adding MCT, nutrients, and essential fatty acids to provide an estimated 74 kcal/100 mL and 1.4 g/100 mL protein (MBM group). Control infants (n = 8) received an MCT formula (MCT group). The feeding intervention was a minimum of 6 weeks after chest tube removal per The Hospital for Sick Children standard chylothorax treatment protocol.

Results:

Daily volume and duration of chest tube drainage were not different between the MBM and MCT groups. While there was no statistically significant difference in rates of weight gain (g/d) between feeding groups, infants in the MBM group, who tended to be younger, experienced a decline in mean weight (P = .04) and length (P = .01) for age z scores.

Conclusion:

Fat-modified breast milk resolved chylothorax; however, strategies to address poor growth need to be developed and evaluated in larger trials prior to widespread clinical adoption of this novel treatment.

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