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Human Milk and Breastfeeding Outcomes in Infants With Myelomeningocele

Spatz, Diane L. PhD, RN-BC, FAAN; Froh, Elizabeth B. PhD, RN

Section Editor(s): Parker, Leslie A.

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000653
Human Milk Science: Special Series

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.

University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA (Dr Spatz & Dr. Froh); Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Department of Nursing & Clinical Care Services, Philadelphia, PA (Dr Spatz & Dr. Froh).

Correspondence: Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, Family and Community Health, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing, 418 Curie Blvd, Office 413, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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© 2019 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses