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© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Hoban, R.; Schoeny, M.E.; Esquerra-Zwiers, A.; Kaenkumchorn, T.K.; Casini, G.; Tobin, G.; Siegel, A.H.; Patra, K.; Hamilton, M.; Wicks, J.; Meier, P.; Patel, A.L. Impact of Donor Milk on Short- and Long-Term Growth of Very Low Birth Weight Infants. Nutrients 2019, 11, 241.


Mother’s own milk (MOM) reduces the risk of morbidities in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. When MOM is unavailable, donor breastmilk (DM) is used, with unclear impact on short- and long-term growth. This retrospective analysis compared anthropometric data at six time points from birth to 20–24 months corrected age in VLBW infants who received MOM supplements of preterm formula (n = 160) versus fortified DM (n = 161) during neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization. The cohort was 46% female; mean birth weight and gestational age (GA) were 998 g and 27.3 weeks. Multilevel linear growth models assessed changes in growth z-scores short-term (to NICU discharge) and long-term (post-discharge), controlling for amount of DM or formula received in first 28 days of life, NICU length of stay (LOS), birth GA, and sex. Z-scores for weight and length decreased during hospitalization but increased for all parameters including head circumference post-discharge. Short-term growth was positively associated with LOS and birth GA. A higher preterm formula proportion, but not DM proportion, was associated with slower rates of decline in short-term growth trajectories, but feeding type was unrelated to long-term growth. In conclusion, controlling for total human milk fed, DM did not affect short- or long-term growth.


human milk, breastfeeding, neonatal, donor milk, growth, very low birth weight