Got Milk?

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My twin and I were born six weeks prematurely, weighing less than seven pounds combined. These special circumstances surrounding my birth have helped to shape my passion for medicine. For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of becoming an obstetrician and working with moms and their newborns. My internship with the Connecticut Human Milk Research Center has exposed me the various components of importance in the treatment of premature infants, one being their nutrition.

Premature infant nutrition an elaborate field within it of itself. The complex diet of these sick and tiny babies is imperative to their current and future health. The Connecticut Human Milk Research Center and NICU at CCMC strives to encourage feeding all of its NICU babies breast milk, as it supports healthy growth and development and can protect against a plethora of conditions, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, allergies, asthma, and obesity.

Before my internship, I was not aware of the sizable number of donor breast milk banks present in the U.S. These banks provide pasteurized donor milk that has been pooled from various mothers to NICUs. Donor milk, which is seen as a medicine, can be ordered by caloric content and is used to supplement or exclusively feed the infants in need. The milk is often fortified to add protein and vitamins specific to each babies needs. I’ve learned so much about how the time of milk donation, duration in the freezer, thawing cycles, and handling of donor milk affect its micro and macronutrient composition.

After shadowing in the NICU, I’ve witnessed the immense changes these once teeny newborns can have over a few months as they meet milestones and finally become healthy enough to go home with their families. I had not previously considered going into neonatology, but the compassionate doctors, nurses, and researchers have made me consider a change in which specialty I’ll choose. There has been nothing more gratifying than seeing parents so thankful and elated to bring their baby home after a long stay at the NICU.

Written by Grace Jarmoc, BC Class of 2018

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