Small and sick newborns and their mothers face unique challenges for optimal newborn nutrition, requiring enhanced lactation and feeding support.
2.5 million newborns die each year in the first month of life, most in low- and middle-income countries. Innovations to improve care including optimal feeding during this critical period are urgently needed to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 to reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality.
Globally, inpatient newborns may not receive optimal nutrition, including mother’s own milk or donor human milk from a human milk bank; if they do, it may be too late or insufficient. Known interventions, including optimal lactation support, prevention of separation, and human milk bank services to safely provide only essential donor milk, can provide all newborns with an exclusive human milk diet.
• Less than half of all newborns are put to the breast within the first hour after birth
• Small and sick newborns who need intensive care may be separated from their mothers, sometimes impeding feeding of mother’s own milk even when mothers and newborns are admitted to the same hospital.
• Newborns may not have access to their mother’s milk to immediately meet their nutritional needs, and mother’s lactation supply may be impacted due to stress.
Current data systems are lacking around the world to track how newborns are fed, how mothers are supported to establish their lactation, and how human milk banks can provide safe and quality donor human milk to infants who lack their mothers’ milk. Data improvements are needed to enhance decision making for optimal newborn feeding.