A breast milk fortifier is a nutritional supplement to be added with human milk. It comes in a powdered form to be mixed with breast milk or donor milk. It contains extra calories, protein, some essential minerals (fortified with calcium and phosphorus) and other nutrients which help promote growth and bone development during the initial few weeks of life.
Your breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby however, babies who are born prematurely or have a low birth weight may not have had time to build up their natural stores of important proteins and vitamins. Therefore, for these babies breast milk alone may not provide enough energy and nutrients for achieving growth. These babies are usually given breast milk fortifier.
Exclusive Human Milk Diet (EHMD) is defined as a diet in which 100% of the Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates are derived solely from human milk resource.
|Parameters||Cow's Milk-based Fortifier||Human Milk-based Fortifier|
|Retains anti-bacterial properties of breast milk1|
|Human Milk Oligosaccharides2
(Prebiotics for gut health)
(High-quality whey protein)
|Improved feed tolerence4|
Until recently, the only type of fortifiers available in the UK were made from cow’s milk. Now, fortifiers made from human milk are also available which offer unique benefits not available through conventional cow's milk-based fortifiers. Human milk-derived fortifiers retain the advantages of breast milk including Immunoglobulins and Human Milk Oligosaccharides, making sure your baby receives enough nutrients through the most natural way possible. Moreover, they also help adhere to EHMD which result in substantially improved outcomes for prematurity-related complications 5.
Breast milk fortifier will be prescribed by a doctor. To start with, a small amount will be measured and mixed with your breast milk or to the donor milk your baby is receiving. The fortified breast milk will be prepared by the staff caring for your baby and feeding will take place in the normal way. The duration of fortification will be decided by the team looking after your baby, based on growth markers such as weight gain, head circumference and length gain among others.
The term "Human Milk Fortifier" (HMF) is a generic name for a nutritional supplement that is added to mother's milk or donor milk to meet the dietary needs of premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). It is frequently assumed that because it is "Human Milk Fortifier" it must be made from human milk, which is not true.
VLBW* infants who fail to gain weight despite adequate breast-milk feeding should be given human-milk fortifiers, preferably those that are human milk based.
HM : Human milk
HMDF : Human milk-derived fortifier
CMDF : Cow's milk-derived fortifier