HealthDay News — For infants with very-low-birth weight (VLBW), use of supplemental donor milk does not improve neurodevelopment compared with placebo at 18 months’ corrected age, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Deborah L. O’Connor, PhD, RD, from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving VLBW infants recruited from 4 neonatal units within 96 hours of birth. When mother’s milk was unavailable, infants were fed donor milk (181 infants) or formula (182 infants) for 90 days or to discharge. Neurodevelopment was assessed in 92% of survivors.

The researchers observed no significant differences in the mean Bayley-III cognitive composite score, language composite score, or motor composite score between the groups (fully adjusted mean differences: −2.0, −3.1, and −3.7, respectively). No differences were seen between the groups in infants positive for the mortality and morbidity index (43 and 40% in the donor milk and formula groups, respectively) or in changes in growth z scores.

“If donor milk is used in settings with high provision of mother’s milk, this outcome should not be considered a treatment goal,” the authors write.


O’Connor DL, Gibbins S, Kiss A, Bando N, Brennan-Donnan J, Ng E, Campbell DM, Vaz S, Fusch C, Asztalos E, Church P, Kelly E, Ly L, Daneman A, Unger S. Effect of Supplemental Donor Human Milk Compared With Preterm Formula on Neurodevelopment of Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants at 18 Months: A Randomized Clinical TrialJAMA. 2016;316(18):1897-1905. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.16144