Human Milk-based Fortifier versus Bovine Milk-based FortifierDr Abhiraj Paul
Reading Time: 3 minutes MBBS, DCH, NNF
Fellowship in Neonatology
Ankur Kids Hospital, Jalandhar
MBBS, DCH, NNF
Human Milk-based Fortifier versus Bovine Milk-based Fortifier
Nursing your baby at breast is the best way for babies to feed and bond with their mothers. However, premature infants may need an extra helping hand. In particular, the protein content in breast milk may not be adequate to meet the requirements of small, premature infants. After all, your baby’s stomach has a limited capacity, so rather than increasing the feed quantity, clinicians focus on improving quality by making the feeds more nutrient-dense. This is where fortification comes handy. It improves the nutrient content of breast milk by adding extra proteins, calories and minerals and thus meets the growing nutritional requirements
What is fortified breast milk?
Fortified breast milk refers to human milk that has been mixed with a fortifier. Fortifiers contain an extra amount of nutrients that help ensure your baby gets adequate nutrition.
When are fortifiers suggested for newborns?
Not all infants require fortified breast milk. Breast milk has the perfect balance of macronutrients required by your baby. It is easy to digest, the nutrients get absorbed well and it is the best food for your baby to grow strong and healthy.
Fortified breast milk is usually suggested only when babies are not growing adequately with breast milk alone. Most premature babies are already at risk of growth deficits and thus are the prime candidates for receiving fortified breast milk. While some babies need fortified breast milk for a week or two, others may need it for a month or more.
Types of Fortifiers
In the days gone by, breast milk was fortified by adding infant formula to it. Today, there are specialized products called fortifiers available. The two main types of fortifiers available are:
- Human Milk-based Fortifier
As the name suggests, this type of fortifier is derived from 100% human milk with no synthetic additives
- Bovine Milk-based Fortifier
These types of fortifiers are made with cow’s milk as the main ingredient and include multiple synthetic additives.
Choosing the Right Fortifier
Fortifiers have several nutrients and the composition is formulated to help meet the dietary needs of infants. For premature babies nutrient quality is usually prioritized over nutrient quantity as these babies are already prone to higher risk of infections and growth deficits. The other key points to be considered while choosing the fortifier, especially for premature babies include:
- Nutrient Absorption and Assimilation
This is one of the key benefits of choosing human milk-based fortifiers over bovine milk-based fortifiers. Human milk is very different from bovine milk and is much easier for babies to digest. Thus, the nutrition provided by human milk-based fortifiers is better absorbed by your baby. Along with being easy to digest, it improves your baby’s overall gut health since human milk fortifiers retain many benefits which are unique only to human milk.
- Effect on Immunity
Another reason human milk-based fortifiers are preferred is for the positive impact they have on the baby’s immunity. It takes a while for babies to develop their own immune systems. In the interim, they are solely dependent on the immunoglobins present in breast milk. Since human milk-based fortifiers are made 100% from human milk, they contain immunoglobulins and retain the antibacterial properties present in breast milk. Thus, breastmilk fortified with a human milk-based fortifier helps protect your baby from infections and improves immune status.
Bovine milk contains a higher amount of casein, which is difficult to digest, and may cause babies to throw up. But, breastmilk is optimized to provide a balance between nutrients, easy absorption and tolerance.
About NeoLact Mother’s Milk Fortifier
NeoLact MMF (Mother’s Milk Fortifier) is the only 100% human milk-based fortifier in India. It is specially formulated through patented technology to help meet a premature baby’s unique calorific and nutritional needs. It is available in 0.5 gm and 1 gm sachets to be mixed with breast milk in the recommended volume.
While we can all agree that premature babies need a helping hand to cover growth deficits, choosing the appropriate fortifier can go a long in minimizing the risks and avoiding long-term complications. Ultimately, this is what every mother wants for her child.