Lactation Management Training: From Novice to Expert

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You get a call from a prenatal client who discloses that she is living with HIV. She asks you whether she can safely breastfeed her baby. Do you know how to answer?
On a new client history form, a mother includes antiretroviral therapy (ART) on her medication list. She tells you she is feeding her baby her milk but would like to also feed formula. Do you know whether this is a safe option?
An exclusively breastfeeding client asks for your help with sore and damaged nipples. She tells you she is HIV positive, and she’s worried that her damaged nipples may put her baby at risk for HIV transmission. Do you know how to counsel her?
Dayna Hall, BS, IBCLC, ICCE, ATC, a researcher with extensive experience working at a hospital in Africa in an area where one-third of the population was living with HIV and the instructor in a new Lactation Education Resource class shares some information and strategies with lactation consultants here.
What does U = U mean?
When a person undergoes antiretroviral therapy (ART) and effectively suppresses their viral load to the point that the virus cannot be detected, they can no longer transmit HIV to another person via sexual contact. In 2016, a campaign was launched that assigned the shorthand “U = U” to this concept (standing for “undetectable equals untransmittable.”) The term has been accepted by 800 groups, governments, and organizations in more than 100 countries.
“For people taking ART as prescribed and achieving and maintaining viral suppression, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV through sex,” Hall says.
Does U = U apply to breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, the answer is not an automatic yes—it’s more nuanced than that. “The U = U campaign, for the time being, is specific to sexual transmission,” Hall says. “People living with HIV, adhering to their ART, can safely conceive because the virus is suppressed. But ART is not a cure.”
What do major health organizations recommend?
At the moment, that depends on what organization you ask.
WHO and UNICEF recommend that parents living with HIV exclusively breastfeed their infants for six months and continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months or longer while being fully supported for ART adherence.
The CDC, however, recommends that parents with HIV in the United States not breastfeed their babies at all. National organizations in Britain, Australia, and Canada have similar policies.
Why the discrepancy?
Simply put, WHO has adjusted its recommendation based on ART, while others have not.
Recommendations by the CDC and others are still based on the concept that when safe formula feeding is possible, it is less risky than breastfeeding with HIV, regardless of ART treatment and viral suppression.
“This is in marked contrast to the WHO, which recognized that the demonstrated gains in the availability and use of ART in all resource settings warranted a change to their global recommendations for infant feeding,” Hall explains.
What is the bottom line?
With the availability and effectiveness of ART, the balance of risks and benefits of breastfeeding with HIV has dramatically changed, according to Hall, and lactation support provider’s recommendations need to reflect that new reality—while always considering the entire picture for each unique family and collaborating carefully with the family’s entire care team.
Says Hall: “It is ethically justifiable and frequently safer for providers to participate in a shared decision-making process to develop a feeding plan that may include exclusive breastfeeding for infants whose mother is living with HIV.”
Hall offers an in-depth look at the complex, ever-changing landscape of lactation and HIV and outlines the science and politics behind conflicting recommendations in “WHO Says What,” a new course at Lactation Education Resources. To learn more, register for the full class here.
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https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/baby-friendly-mom-unfriendly/ 

This article is full of conjecture as opposed evidence, to get people's attention. To use inflammatory statements like "nursing staff typically refuse exhausted mothers to take care of their babies" and "rigid and rule bound" elicits a negative response to the evidence-informed practices of the international baby friendly designation. Baby friendly is not just about breastfeeding. It is about helping the newborn transition to extra uterine life in the most physiologic appropriate way. ALL babies. Skin to skin, rooming in, listening to the baby, are the what these practices reinforce. For example, rooming in has been the standard of care in military medicine for over 15 years and it is what parents expect. Educating staff members and providing them the skills to support all families is a piece of the process.

This article puts the emphasis on the comfort of the mother, not newborn and his adjustment to life outside the womb. During this critical time in the newborn's life, shouldn't the emphasis be on the baby's needs for care by the most familiar person to him for transition to the new world? Adults can understand, rationalize and make adjustments to their sleep patterns, knowing it is a challenge but temporary. The baby cannot.

Part of the onus of responsibility is upon the obstetric providers to educate mothers during their pregnancy about what to expect in the immediate post-partum phase in the hours and days after delivery. Evidence shows that rooming in allows for MORE sleep by the mother baby dyad. Appropriate education about normal newborn circadian rhythms being OPPOSITE of the mother's in the early days can help them to understand that their baby should wake frequently at night. It's healthy and normal. Understanding the second and third night of life as ones which will entail a wakeful baby and to encourage the mother to plan ahead for this eventuality, will help them to be prepared. Appropriate anticipatory guidance, especially for the families with a history of anxiety and depression, will help them to be proactive in their own self-care and to plan ahead. 24-72 hours after birth, the family needs these skills to help them welcome the new member(s) to their family. Providing them with the supportive environment during this transition and the education they need to care for their baby 24/7, will empower them to do what is best for them and their family AFTER discharge.

It takes a team to support and educate everyone in adapting to their new roles as a family. To blame the baby friendly practices as being mother ‘un-friendly’, doesn't allow for the opportunity for the parent to embrace their new role in a supportive environment. Continuing paternalistic hospital practices from the 1950's, in light of new evidence from around the globe, is a disservice to our families who expect and deserve more. Quoting Dr. Maya Angelou, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better". Implementing every aspect of baby-friendly practices helps hospitals to be friendly to all families.

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Katie Hinde is studying breast milk’s status as the first superfood, providing babies with invaluable microbes custom-tailored to their individual needs, via an incredible and unlikely dialogue between the mother’s enzymes and the baby’s saliva.  And in studying the marvels of human breast milk she strongly advocates for a society and health care system that will support the breastfeeding goals of all women.

Katie Hinde Associate Professor, Director of the Comparative Lactation Lab in the Center for Evolution and Medicine and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Click the link below to view her TED Talk.

https://www.ted.com/talks/katie_hinde_what_we_don_t_know_about_mother_s_milk

Maybe her March Mammal Madness can be your inspiration for your next World Breastfeeding Week event!  http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/

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Lactoferrin is one of the miraculous substances found in breastmilk which helps the infant kill bacteria and fight infection.  It is the major whey protein in human milk and has its highest concentrations in colostrum.  While it is important for all infants, it is especially important in the prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants.   Lactoferrin has an anti-inflammatory action that may mitigate the pro-inflammatory states present in the gut before the onset of NEC.  This highlights the importance of mothers providing early feedings of colostrum and fresh mature milk to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in their premature infant.

Researchers are experimenting with recombinant lactoferrin use in preterm infants and showing a benefit in reducing NEC.  In recombinant DNA, molecules of DNA are recombined into sequences that would not otherwise be found in the genome.   Recombining DNA is possible because DNA molecules from all organisms share the same chemical structure. They differ only in the nucleotides, the subunits of DNA and RNA, in the gene sequence.

Lactoferrin is present in cow’s milk in lower levels than found in human milk.  And the process of creating formula lowers those levels even further.  So, exogenous sources of lactoferrin must be added to formula if it is to match human levels.  Recombinant human lactoferrin can now be obtained from yeast, transgenic cows, and rice which have structural similarity to endogenous lactoferrin. 

There is already an infant formula manufacturer which is marketing Enspire™ containing lactoferrin in the range found in mature breastmilk.  This formula uses bovine sourced lactoferrin and is being marketed for use in any baby, not necessarily NICU infants.

Why are research dollars being spent on developing a protein that mothers can provide to their own infants?  Why don’t we spend the research dollars refining our techniques on how to best help mothers of premature infants provide their own lactoferrin, provide the best breast pumps, a place to pump, “rooming in” in the NICU and facilitate lots of skin-to-skin holding? In addition, when the mother is supplying her own lactoferrin, she is also colonizing the newborn's GI tract with beneficial bacteria and lowering stress levels in both herself and her infant. 

Liao Y, Jiang R, Lönnerdal B.  Biochemical and molecular impacts of lactoferrin on small intestinal growth and development during early life. Biochem Cell Biol 2012   90: 476–484.

Lönnerdal B, Jiang R, Du X  Bovine lactoferrin can be taken up by the human intestinal lactoferrin receptor and exert bioactivities. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2011 53: 606–614.

Satué-Gracia MT, Frankel E, Rangavajhyala N , German JB.  Lactoferrin in Infant Formulas:  Effect on Oxidation.  J. Agric. Food Chem., 2000, 48:10:4984–4990

Sherman MP, Adamkin DH, Niklas V, Radmacher P, Sherman J, Wertheimer F, Petrak K Randomized Controlled Trial of Talactoferrin Oral Solution in Preterm Infants.  J Pediatr. 2016 Aug; 175:68-73.e3

Sherman MP, Sherman J, Arcinue R, Niklas V.  Randomized Control Trial of Human Recombinant Lactoferrin: A Substudy Reveals Effects on the Fecal Microbiome of Very Low Birth Weight Infants.  J Pediatr. 2016 Jun;173 Suppl:S37-42.

Sherman MP, Pritzl CJ, Xia C, Miller MM, Zaghouani H, Hahm B.  Lactoferrin acts as an adjuvant during influenza vaccination of neonatal mice.  Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 Nov 27;467(4):766-70.

Sherman MP, Miller MM, Sherman J, Niklas V.  Lactoferrin and necrotizing enterocolitis.   Curr Opin Pediatr. 2014 Apr;26(2):146-50.

Sherman MP.  Lactoferrin and necrotizing enterocolitis.  Clin Perinatol. 2013 Mar;40(1):79-91.

Sherman MP, Petrak K. .  Lactoferrin-enhanced anoikis: a defense against neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis.  Med Hypotheses. 2005;65(3):478-82.

Sherman MP, Bennett SH, Hwang FF, Yu C.  Neonatal small bowel epithelia: enhancing anti-bacterial defense with lactoferrin and Lactobacillus GG.  Biometals. 2004 Jun;17(3):285-9.b, c

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We have taken, as gospel, the guideline of weight loss of greater than 5-7% (7-10% in many circles) as dangerous for newborns and requires supplementation – for years.  Is this an arbitrary line in the sand, or serious research?


What do you mean that the research upon which this guideline is based might be flawed?  That data was incompletely gathered, sample sizes were too small, formula supplemented infants were not excluded or the supplementation was not recorded.  Was the weight loss effect of maternal IV fluids during labor considered?  The recent article in the Journal of Human Lactation Weighing the Facts: A Systematic Review of Expected Patterns of Weight Loss in Full Term Breastfed Infants questions the foundation of these guidelines.  And this is not the first time the data supporting the weight loss guidelines has been challenged.  Noel-Weiss did so in 2008.


The consequences of over-diagnosing excessive weight loss are many.  The mother’s own breastmilk could be expressed and used as a supplement but often that is not considered, and the handy bottle of formula is offered.  Volumes are often excessive.  That formula bottle contains virtually unlimited amounts of supplement, compared to the volumes the baby would be consuming at the breast, if breastfeeding was going well. 

 
Then there is the disruption to the gut flora.  And the sensitization to cow’s milk through the porous newborn gut wall.  Even one bottle can make a difference.


The possible physical sequela are a concern, but the most serious problem with incorrectly identifying an infant as losing too much weight is the damage done to the mother’s breastfeeding intention.  “Well, from the start, I didn’t get this right”.  So, what does it matter if I offer a bottle when the baby cries and I am tired, or I when I go for my OB check-up, and then one when my home is full of guests and I might be embarrassed, and then when I go out for a while with friends, and then, and then….  It starts a slippery slope.   When a mother hears that her baby is losing too much weight she not only questions the adequacy of her breastmilk but of her mothering capacity.   

So, who will do the research, the right way, and get reliable guidelines?  We then can prevent the serious complications of hypernatremic dehydration in a few infants and preserve the breastfeeding relationship during the dip in weight before the mother’s milk comes in, in many infants.  Research methods have improved, more researchers are looking at these issues and we owe it to our breastfeeding babies and mothers to get this right.

Thulier D.  Weighing the Facts: A Systematic Review of Expected Patterns of Weight Loss in Full-Term, Breastfed Infants.  J Hum Lact. 2016 Feb;32(1):28-34.

Noel-Weiss J, Courant G, Woodend AK. Physiological weight loss in the breastfed neonate: a systematic review.  Open Med. 2008;2(4):e99-e110.

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