Breastmilk produced by the mother of a preterm infant differs in composition from that of a mother who has delivered at term. Specifically, preterm milk has significantly higher concentrations of lipids, protein, sodium, calcium and selected immunoglobulins. The low osmolarity of human milk and the presence of immunoglobulins are thought to help an immature gastro-intestinal tract adapt to enteral nutrition. Preterm infants have a reduced ability to utilize dietary lipids due to a reduction in pancreatic lipases. The enzymes in human milk help improve the efficiency of fat breakdown, leading to better absorption.
-The Practising Midwife, 2(7), July/Aug. 1999
Reprinted from Midwifery Today E-News (Vol 1 Issue 35, Aug 27, 1999)
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