Background and Aims Mother’s own breast milk (MBM) is the most advantageous enteral food for extremely preterm infants (EPIs). Mothers of EPIs are at risk for inadequate expression of breast milk but determinants of MBM production are not well identified. The aim of the study was to investigate maternal predictors for MBM intake in EPIs during the neonatal period and at discharge.
Methods The sample consisted of 109 mothers and their 117 EPIs born at Karolinska University Hospital from 2005–2009. Maternal data was retrieved from prenatal and obstetrical medical charts. In infants, birth data and information on enteral intake was collected from neonatal charts during the first 6 weeks of life and at discharge.
Results Mean maternal age was 31.3 years. Mean infant gestational age and birth weight were 26+0 weeks and 850 grams. Only mothers with high MBM production at 3 weeks (MBM >90% of total enteral food intake) maintained their lactation over time. Predictors of low neonatal MBM production were unemployment, use of nicotine, low educational level, non-Swedish origin, non-cohabiting status and prenatal steroids (p<0.05). At discharge 64/108 (59%) infants were fully or partly fed with MBM. Mothers of exclusively formula fed infants were younger, less educated, had lower incomes, history of pre-pregnancy nicotine use and prenatal steroids (p<0.05).
Conclusions Special efforts should be made in young mothers of low socioeconomic status and foreign origin as well as mothers receiving prenatal steroids to help them sustain adequate breast milk production for their EPIs.