When a baby is born prematurely, it’s crucial to get them the exact nutrition they need to grow and thrive. Thanks to a generous donation from the Fansler Foundation, Community Regional Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit now has a breast milk analyzer machine that can pinpoint exactly which nutrients a preterm baby needs added to its mother’s breast milk.
Baby Gracie Kay Nuñez was born in June at only four pounds, 15 ounces. Mom Kelsie Nuñez gave birth at 34 weeks.
“I was worried mostly, I think, about her lung development because she was born premature; so how her lungs developed, if she was breathing room air, her ability to be able to breastfeed in the future,” said Kelsie.
Baby Gracie went directly to the neonatal intensive care unit at Community Regional. Dr. Anand Rajani is the Medical Director of the NICU at Community Regional. He said, “Premature babies, which is the majority of the patients that we take care of in our NICU, are really in need of high quality nutrition, so that we can try the best that as we can to replicate the growth that they would have inside the mother’s womb.”
Dr. Rajani said premature babies need certain nutrients in breast milk.
“Right now we use something called standardized fortification, where we add additional protein, calcium, and phosphorus to that milk in order to help it reach a sort of generalized improvement, in number of calories per ounce, amount of protein, amount of carbohydrates, and fat; what we refer to as macro nutrients,” explained Dr. Rajani.
Amanda Juarez is the pediatric clinical nutrition manager at Community Regional. She stated, “So, every baby has essentially a different nutrition prescription that we as dietitians are able to recommend to the doctors, and then that gets implemented, and we keep a very close eye on the growth charts and what our intervention is showing, and then we adjust as needed.”
Dr. Rajani and Amanda now have a high tech tool that can provide these tiny patients targeted fortification. The breast milk analyzer machine can pinpoint exactly which supplement a premature baby needs in it’s mother’s breast milk.
“So we put mom’s milk in the machine, it takes about 30 seconds to run an analysis, and then once we get the results we can customize the fortification and individualize patient care… It spits out a little ticket that shows us calories, carbohydrate content, protein and fat. And then we compare those numbers to a standard that is recommended for babies to grow at the growth rate that they would be growing at if they were still in mom, in utero,” Amanda added.
For moms like Kelsie, the breast milk analyzer gives her peace of mind knowing her baby is getting the exact supplements she needs to grow healthy and strong.
Kelsie commented, “It’s super exciting because initially they thought that we might be calorie deficient, and then found out we have an excessive amount of calories, which is fantastic, but she was low on protein. So it’s nice that they’re able to pinpoint exactly what she needs as we go home, so we’re not having to try and guess.”
Dr. Rajani said he’s grateful he and his team can provide the best personalized care to his littlest patients.
“Good growth is the mainstay of good development for a baby; if a baby doesn’t grow well, their development will almost certainly be hampered in some way shape or form… To have a breast milk analyzer it is an incredible piece of technology because what it does is really allows us to customize the nutrition for each baby individual to the breast milk that their mother is producing,” ended Dr. Rajani.
Community Regional is the only hospital in the region with this technology for it’s tinest patients.
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