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Why is breast milk helpful for preterm babies?

Mother’s milk is best for nearly all babies. For preterm babies and those with certain health problems, it can be especially helpful. In one study with babies in a hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), feeding mother’s milk was shown to:
  • dramatically lower the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a dangerous intestinal condition often seen in babies in the NICU
  • help babies wean off IV nutrition (nutrition given through a vein) more quickly
  • lower the number of hospital-acquired infections by half
  • improve vision
  • improve neurocognitive (brain) test performance

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.