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American Family Children's Hospital Milk Lab Puts up Huge Numbers in First Year

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American Family Children's Hospital Milk Lab Puts up Huge Numbers in First Year

Madison, Wisconsin - Imagine 136 gallons of milk lined up in the grocery store or 3,650 bottles of infant formula stacked on a kitchen counter. That’s the volume of human milk and formulas prepared for inpatients during the first year of operation for American Family Children’s Hospital’s milk laboratory.

“The lab provides a sanitary space to precisely mix formulas for special diets and to fortify breast milk for babies with the most complex medical conditions,” said Laura Bodine, clinical nutritionist at the children’s hospital’s Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU staff cares for the tiniest neonates with complicated and severe health problems.

The milk lab is a dedicated sanitary space that features a separate clean room with special ventilation. Staff members wear gowns, gloves and hair nets while preparing milks and formulas. Human milk is prepared under a hood for added sanitation. All feeds and fortifications are measured on gram scales and syringes are used to help with accurate measurements.

The milk lab has a total of six staff members. Two staff members a day prepare 24-hour supplies of fortified breast milk and formulas seven days a week including holidays. Each preparation is tailored to the babies’ individual needs for optimal growth. The staff of the lab is trained to accurately fortify breast milk and prepare formula for a wide range of dietary needs like dairy and soy allergies, low-fat diets and metabolic disorders. Human milk is barcoded to confirm milk is combined, fortified and administered from the mother to her baby.

“We’re set up to provide babies exactly what they need when they need it,” said clinical nutrition technician Laura Clussman.

A new feature of the milk lab is a centrifuge that can separate the fat from human milk for low-fat diets so that babies continue to get the benefits of human milk.

“The creamatocrit machine is used to test human milk to find out its average caloric density which can be helpful to determine if fortification is needed or to help determine a reason for inadequate growth,” said Ashley Johnson, a milk lab registered dietician/nutritionist.

The lab also stores donor milk from an Indiana milk bank for patients whose mother’s milk is not available.

The milk lab staff is part of a comprehensive health care team that includes physicians, nurses and other health professionals to provide enhanced bedside care to infants and children at American Family Children’s Hospital.

Date Published: 07/15/2015