FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ten years ago, only half of babies being cared for by Pediatrix Medical Group neonatologists in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) received breast milk. Today, nearly 75% of these babies receive breast milk – one of the most powerful nutrients a premature baby can receive.
Clinicians from MEDNAX National Medical Group, the parent company of Pediatrix, provide services at more than 20 per cent of NICUs in the United States; therefore this increased use of breast milk is representative of NICU trends across the country. Promotion of breastfeeding and increasing use of breast milk, which is the goal of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, is a focal point of MEDNAX quality improvement efforts in neonatal intensive care. Efforts to increase utilization of breast milk are part of the company’s mission to provide optimized care on a local, regional and national scale in pursuit of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim.
“Enhancing nutrition” by improving breast milk use is a key component of the MEDNAX 100,000 Babies Campaign. Led by neonatologist Dr. Dan Ellsbury of Mercy Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Des Moines, the campaign is designed to improve the system of care provided to more than 100,000 babies in NICUs throughout the country by enhancing nutrition, improving medication use, reducing central line infections, minimizing mechanical ventilation and reducing suboptimal admission temperatures.
The use of breast milk is the most highly recommended source of nutrition for premature babies, as well as full term newborns. In high-risk NICU babies, breast milk provides important protection against a severe and life threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis.
As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states on its Breastfeeding Initiatives website, “Many premature and seriously ill babies can eventually breastfeed. Human milk has been shown to be very beneficial to premature and sick newborns by helping growth and preventing disease. If you have a sick or premature baby, begin expressing colostrum ...as soon as possible...”
According to Dr. Barbara Carr, a neonatologist with MEDNAX at St. Luke’s in Kansas City, another resource for babies’ nutritional needs is through official non-profit milk banks, such as St. Luke’s Heart of America Mothers’ Milk Bank. St. Luke’s is one of three Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) locations, where MEDNAX has provided medical direction, guidance and support in establishing the facility. There are 19 milk banks affiliated with HMBANA, which has established stringent quality guidelines for milk donation and processing. Donors are carefully screened to ensure that the milk is safe for babies to consume.
Dr. Carr notes that the estimated need for donor human milk in NICUs across the country is nine million ounces of breast milk a year. Since the St. Luke’s milk bank opened in 2012, donations doubled from 61,327 to 149,602 ounces. Before mothers donate to the milk bank, they must fill out paperwork detailing their medical history, get their blood drawn and seek approval from both their doctor and their baby’s doctor. As of this year, their milk is dispensed to 23 NICUs across the country.
MEDNAX, Inc. is a national medical group comprised of the nation's leading providers of neonatal, anesthesia, teleradiology, maternal-fetal and pediatric physician subspecialty services. Physicians and advanced practitioners practicing as part of MEDNAX are reshaping the delivery of care within their specialties and subspecialties, using evidence-based tools, continuous quality initiatives and clinical research to enhance patient outcomes and provide high-quality, cost-effective care. Pediatrix Medical Group, a division of MEDNAX, was founded in 1979 and includes neonatal physicians who provide services at more than 370 neonatal intensive care units, and collaborate with affiliated maternal-fetal medicine, pediatric cardiology, pediatric critical care and other physician subspecialists to provide a clinical care continuum. Pediatrix is also the nation's largest provider of newborn hearing screens. American Anesthesiology, a division of MEDNAX, was established in 2007 and includes more than 2,475 anesthesiologists and advanced practitioners who provide anesthesia care to patients in connection with surgical and other procedures as well as pain management. MEDNAX, through its affiliated professional corporations, employs more than 2,700 physicians in 35 states and Puerto Rico. vRad, which MEDNAX acquired in 2015, provides teleradiology services through a network of more than 350 radiologists located in all 50 states. In addition to its national physician network, MEDNAX provides services to medical providers in over 40 states through two complementary businesses, consisting of a revenue cycle management company and a consulting services company. Additional information is available at www.mednax.com.