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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Insight Into the Diet of Preterm Infants

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This summer, I have the incredible opportunity to intern for the Connecticut Human Milk Research Center, at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. Here I am able to apply experiences and lessons from my time at Boston College such as taking initiative, being diligent and being a team contributor that will prove to be helpful throughout my internship.

The Center is sponsored by the Connecticut Children’s Division of Neonatology and studies human milk intake in premature infants and its affects on their overall health. They do this through a unique NICU-specific database where they collect various data points including the daily amount of mother’s milk, donor milk, and formula that each infant receives. Additionally, the center has a human milk analyzer that measures the macronutrient composition of donated human milk samples. Just recently, the Center has acquired a wet lab through UCONN TIPs in Farmington where they will have a greater capability to analyze human milk samples.

My Boston College education has thus far offered me the chance to understand how important it is to approach my work in an organized fashion. Given my experience in lab centered classes, I have learned how to work effectively in a group setting and how to outline and prioritize studies. This has been immensely helpful as I am working with other students, researchers and clinicians this summer as we aim to further understand how human breast milk impacts infant growth, development and neurological outcomes. Additionally, my Boston College educational experience has been encompassed by the Jesuit ideals of being attentive and reflective. This has ultimately helped me understand how to pay attention to detail and understand broader connections, a skill very meaningful as it promotes conducting work with care.

Written by Grace Jarmoc, BC Class of 2018