Why Human Milk and Not Breast Milk Among Other Changes: 2018 Author Guideline Updates : Advances in Neonatal Care

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Letter From the Editors

Why Human Milk and Not Breast Milk Among Other Changes

2018 Author Guideline Updates

McGrath, Jacqueline M. PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN; Brandon, Debra PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN

Author Information
Advances in Neonatal Care 17(5):p 325-326, October 2017. | DOI: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000436
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Dear NANN Colleagues,

Change is always occurring. As the coeditors for Advances in Neonatal Care, we are continually examining the neonatal landscape for ways to best deliver the journal content. Recently, we noticed that many journals publishing articles related to human milk science and breastfeeding medicine had updated their language. As with other practices around consistent terminology, we decided to examine the need to standardize the language used around this important content. Using consistent language sends a message of respect to the family as well as supports the importance of facilitating breastfeeding and the use of human milk, especially for high-risk infant populations where there is much to gain from the receipt of mother's own milk. Using standardized language also provides a means to explicitly shift away from using the term “breast.” By making these changes in our language, we are not continuing to objectify the “breast” as the center of attention but, rather, the attention should be on the delivery of human milk to the infant and the relationship that is developing/occurring during the feeding. To that end, we are instituting a change in our author guidelines.

Beginning in 2018, we will not publish articles using the words “breast milk.” The use of the words “human milk,” “mother's own milk,” “father's own milk,” or “donor human milk” are now preferred. Human milk is 2 words. The use of the word “lactation” over “breastfeeding” is also preferred whenever possible. When the word “breastfeeding” is used, it should be used as a single word. Interestingly, we recently learned that breastfeeding translates in Spanish to lactation. The word “breast” does not come through in the translation. Using “breastfeeding” as a single word acknowledges the unique use of the breast for feeding. In addition, “nursing” should not be used in reference to breastfeeding. Consistent use of “lactating” or “breastfeeding” where appropriate sends a consistent message to parents and the community at large while “nursing” can take on different contexts. These changes are consistent with those being used by International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Style Guidelines for Writing Professional Resources.1,2 The ILCA instituted these changes beginning in 2015 in its publications, and many journals related to this community have also adopted similar changes.

Furthermore, “expressed milk” should be used over “pumped milk,” “expressing milk” instead of “pumping milk,” and “milk expression” instead of “pumping.” The use of “father,” “mother,” and “infant” rather than “dad,” “mom,” or “baby” will also be required as part of our new standards. These more formal terms are best for use in professional journals such as Advances in Neonatal Care. These changes will require some getting used to for all of us; yet, consistent use is important and respectful to those in our care. Authors who submit manuscripts with incorrect language will be asked to make these corrections during the manuscript revision process. Corrections could lengthen the revision process, so adhering to these changes before submission is important to getting your manuscript into print faster. Thank you for working with us to make these changes. How we refer to human milk is important; we should all be speaking about it the same way, so we support each other and we support families together, consistently.

Thank you for your continued support,

Jacqueline M. McGrath, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN
Coeditor; Advances in Neonatal Care
[email protected]

Debra Brandon, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN
Coeditor; Advances in Neonatal Care
[email protected]


1. ILCA Style Guidelines for Written Professional Resources. Raleigh, NC: International Lactation Consultation Association. www.ilca.org; https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/ILCA/e3ee2b6e-c389–43de-83eaf32482f20da5/UploadedImages/Learning/Resources/ILCA%20Style%20Guidelines%20for%20Written%20Professional%20Resources%20(2016).pdf. Last revised January 3rd, 2017. Accessed July 24, 2017.
2. Lactation Matters the ILCA blog. Raleigh, NC: International Lactation Consultation Association. www.ilca.org; https://lactationmatters.org/2017/01/03/introducing-the-new-ilca-style-guidelines-for-written-professional-resources. Accessed July 24, 2017.
© 2017 by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.