A new study found that advanced care neonatal units of U.S. hospitals are increasingly feeding their patients human milk, but still less than a third of the units routinely use the practice. The findings suggest that many fragile, typically preterm infants are not receiving optimal protection against infections and other medical problems, say the authors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends human milk for all preterm infants. The new findings, published in Pediatrics, are based on national survey data from the CDC. The researchers found that in 2011 30.8% of maternity hospitals routinely provided human milk to most infants in advanced care units, up from 21.2% in 2007, with higher rates found in states in the Northwest and the Northeast. The use of banked donor milk in advanced care neonatal units increased from 11.5% in 2007 to 22.0% in 2011, with higher rates found in the West, in states with milk banks and in states adjacent to a state with a milk bank. Read the abstract.

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