THURSDAY, Sept. 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Standardizing direct breastfeeding (DBF) practices increases DBF during hospitalization for infants less than 37 weeks of gestation at birth, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in Advances in Neonatal Care.

Nellie Munn Swanson, D.N.P., M.P.H., from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing in Minneapolis, and colleagues standardized clinical practices to increase DBF at the first oral meal, total DBF meals during hospitalization, and use of weighing to measure milk transfer to preterm infants. The Encourage, Assess, Transition (EAT) protocol was developed and implemented for infants less than 37 weeks of gestation at birth using quality improvement methods. The protocol was initiated in 38 infants from 27.7 to 36.7 weeks of gestation.

The researchers observed an increase in the proportion of infants who experienced DBF at the first oral meal, from 22 to 54 percent. There was also an increase from 13.3 to 20.3 in the mean DBF meals during hospitalization. A 166 percent increase was seen in use of test weighing to measure milk transfer.

“Improved DBF outcomes were observed in preterm infants on a rapid timeline,” the authors write. “EAT increased the use of standard DBF practices (e.g., clinical decision-making, parent education, and procedures used) across the interprofessional team.”

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