McHenry, Ill. –
A groundbreaking study available online in the Journal of Perinatology
shows the addition of a unique pumping pattern can help mothers of premature infants pump nearly 67 percent more breast milk over the first 7 days after birth than mothers who did not use the pattern. Nearly 13 percent of all infants in the U.S. are born prematurely, and at risk for serious immaturity-related health problems. Research shows
breast milk feedings lower the risk of many prematurity-related complications in a dose-response manner, meaning higher amounts of breast milk provide the greatest protection.
The results of this newly-published study indicate mothers can pump more breast milk to help their fragile babies tolerate feedings and ward off infections and other serious complications that originate in the early days and weeks after birth. "These findings are so important because several studies show a direct impact on infant health outcomes based on increased dosage of breast milk during the first few weeks of life when premature babies are at the greatest risk. This unique combination of patterns allows mothers to pump more breast milk during this critical time," said study author Paula P. Meier, R.N., Ph.D., FAAN.
Led by Meier and a team of researchers from Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill., this is the first research to compare milk volume and time spent on pumping for different breast pump suction patterns conducted with mothers of premature infants cared for in the NICU. The study combined an additional pumping suction pattern called Symphony Preemie+™ for Medela’s hospital-grade breast pump, with its maintenance breast pump suction pattern called Standard 2.0. The pattern mimics the way a full-term baby sucks at the breast in the first days after birth before the onset of lactogenesis II (known as the "milk coming in") which is vastly different from the suck pattern of a week or two-week old infant. The study shows that together these patterns help mothers achieve the same volume of breast milk as mothers of breastfed full-term infants in just six days. Prior to the study, breast pumps did not have the ability to switch between these time-specific suck patterns.
"Previous breast pumps were not designed to mimic the unique sucking pattern of full-term infants when they feed at breast before the milk comes in,” said Meier. “We hypothesized that this uniquely human sucking pattern exerts a type of "programming" effect on the mother's milk-making cells during the critical first few days after birth when the breast is extremely sensitive to prolactin, the milk-making hormone. We questioned whether missing out on this early sucking stimulation might negatively impact mothers’ later milk volume – as would be the case with pump-dependent mothers with premature infants. This unique suction pattern, which mimics a term infant during these early days post-birth, appears to correct this missing step.”
Existing research further demonstrates that improving outcomes and reducing risk for prematurity-related complications can save millions for hospitals and families. In addition, major quality improvement initiatives for hospital NICUs actually prioritize breast milk feedings based on available research.
Research Yields Exciting Results
Symphony Preemie+ is the result of research and engineering collaboration between Medela and Rush University Medical Center. The team developed the suction pattern combining it with Medela’s standard pumping pattern on the same program card so clinicians would be able to use one program to initiate and maintain milk supply for mothers of premature infants.
"This is yet another example of Medela’s historic commitment and investment in developing research-based products to help mothers breastfeed for as long as they choose. Collaborating with leading researchers was instrumental in developing these technological advances that we believe will have a significantly positive impact on the health of premature infants,” said Medela Director of Education and Clinical Services, Amy O’Malley, R.N., MSN.
The randomized, blinded clinical trial enrolled 105 mothers with premature babies into three groups which tested three different combinations of breast pump suction patterns. The three groups of mothers were equal with respect to risk factors that might influence milk output. The mothers in the three groups pumped the same number of minutes and times, meaning that more "pumping" could not have influenced the findings. Mothers in the study were also surveyed regarding their perceptions on comfort, convenience and effectiveness of the pumping patterns. The results revealed that use of this unique breast pump suction pattern, followed by Medela's Symphony 2.0 after the onset of lactogenesis II, allows mothers of premature infants to pump significantly more milk in less time and maintain milk volume through day 14.
The study also found that mothers who used the combination of the Preemie+ and Medela’s Standard 2.0 pattern:
- Achieved a comparable mean daily output equal to that of mothers with healthy full-term breastfed infants (500-600 mLs) by day 6 after birth. (Mothers not using this pattern combination were not able to achieve this.)
- Were able to maintain the above volume (500-600 mLs daily) through day 14, when the study ended.
- Achieved a mean daily milk output that was considerably higher than previously reported for breast pump-dependent mothers of premature infants in early lactation.
Major Savings: Human Lives & Health Care Dollars
Numerous studies and heath care organizations report that feeding breast milk can actually help save lives as well as, reduce complications and the associated costs.
Medela provides the most technologically advanced, superior-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding accessories to nursing mothers around the world. A longtime champion of breastfeeding, Medela is the only company to develop products based on research by the world’s leading lactation experts. As a result, Medela’s breast pumps are the number one choice of healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities worldwide, including more than 80 percent of U.S. hospitals.
Medela has developed an extensive line of products to meet the diverse needs of nursing mothers. These products include hospital-grade, double and single electric and manual breast pumps; breastfeeding accessories such as pump cleaning products, breast care products and specialty feeding devices; and maternity and nursing intimate apparel.
Founded in 1961 by Olle Larsson in Zug, Switzerland, Medela continues to grow under the ownership of the Larsson family. Medela serves customers through a worldwide network of distribution partners in more than 90 countries and its 15 subsidiaries in the United States, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Poland, China and Spain. The company entered the United States more than 30 years ago; its U.S. headquarters are located in McHenry, Illinois.