NIHR Signal: Fortified donor breast milk led to similar development for very-low-birthweight babies compared with formula milk

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Providing very-low-birthweight babies with fortified human donor breast milk made no difference to their developmental neurological outcomes at 18 months compared with giving formula.

This randomised controlled trial looked at 363 babies with birth weights of less than 1500g in neonatal intensive care units in Canada. When the mother’s own milk supply was limited, the babies were given either nutrient-enriched donor breast milk or formula developed for premature babies. There was no difference in their understanding, language, or ability to manipulate objects at 18 months.

This finding might help to reduce anxiety about providing formula in areas where donor breast milk is difficult to obtain. However, the research was focussed on developmental outcomes rather than potential effects of donor breast milk on other risks of prematurity, such as immunity or gastrointestinal complications.

This trial will continue to collect data to re-assess developmental outcomes when the children reach five years of age.

Read the full signal here

Breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks after birth: 2016 to 2017 Q3 data

Public Health England statistics and statistical commentary on the prevalence of breastfeeding.

The aggregate breastfeeding rate for England for Quarter 3 2016/17 (October to December 2016) is 44.1% (with confidence intervals of 43.9 – 44.4%)
 Breastfeeding prevalence can be published for 73 local authorities (passing all 3 stages of validation) and percentages range from 19.0% to 76.9%.

View statistics here

Always Ask – safer pregnancy campaign

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The Royal College of Midwives has endorsed a new campaign called Always ask which is designed to empower pregnant women to overcome fears of asking health professionals questions. The campaign is designed to reduce the number of women who have serious pregnancy complications, or a loss that could have been prevented.  The campaign is joint one by Tommys, Kings College London and BabyCentre.  It centres on two animation co-created with women and health professionals, and follows recent research from Babycentre that shows more than 60% of women worry that they’re wasting midwives’ time, so don’t ask about health concerns.

Click here for more information on the campaign from Tommys and to view the videos.



Screening pregnant women for GBS not recommended

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Following a further comprehensive review of the evidence, the UK National Screening Committee has not recommended a national screening programme for GBS in pregnancy.

Breastfeeding ‘doesn’t boost children’s intelligence’ – Behind the Headlines – NHS Choices

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A new study followed about 8,000 babies in Ireland for five years to look at whether breastfeeding had an impact on problem solving and vocabulary (cognitive abilities), and problem behaviours.

“Scientists found tots given the boob had the same IQ at age three and five compared to bottle-fed youngsters,” The Sun reports in its own unique way.

This study has tackled the controversial question of whether there are long-term benefits of breastfeeding for cognitive ability or problem behaviours when children are older (ages three to five). Although they found very limited evidence of benefit, the authors do note that there are some other studies that have used a similar analysis but found differing results. The researchers think this could be due to slight differences in analysis.

This does highlight the difficulties in being absolutely certain whether breastfeeding has direct impact on long-term cognitive outcomes. What we can say is that, if there are differences, they do not appear to be large once other factors are taken into. This may be reassuring to women who were not able to breastfeed.

The strengths of this study include its large size, the fact that it followed participants prospectively for a long period, and took into account a large number of factors that could be influencing the link. There are some limitations. For example, they collected information on breastfeeding at nine months. In some cases mothers may not have been able to accurately remember exactly how long they breastfed for by that point, or felt pressure to report longer durations than were actually achieved.

Read the full Behind the Headlines report article here

or here for the study on which the article is based (Girard L-C, Doyle O, Tremblay RE. Breastfeeding, Cognitive and Noncognitive Development in Early Childhood: A Population Study. Pediatrics. Published online March 27 2017 )

National Perinatal Mortality Review Tool to go live by end of 2017

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HQIP has commissioned MBRRACE-UK to develop and establish a standardised National Perinatal Mortality Review Tool (PMRT) on behalf of the Department of Health (England), and the Welsh and Scottish Governments. The tool, which is being designed with the involvement of bereaved parents, will be free for use by NHS maternity and neonatal units in England, Wales and Scotland. It is being piloted this summer and is scheduled to launch by the end of 2017

The main purpose of the tool is to enable high quality reviews of the circumstances and care leading up to cases of stillbirth and neonatal death

More details here

Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers – Q&A doc

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The Maternity Choice and Personalisation Pioneers have been developed to test ways of improving choice and personalisation for women accessing maternity services.  All of the Pioneers will seek to deepen as well as widen the choices available to women across clinical commissioning group (CCG) boundaries, by seeking to attract new providers of services into their areas and empowering women to take control in decisions about the care they receive, to meet their needs and preferences.

Supported by NHS England and other partners, the Pioneers will work rapidly over an 18 month period to develop and test ways of improving choice and personalisation of maternity services for women in their localities. NHS England will draw on this work and promote it for national adoption and adaptation as the Pioneers progress, to support all areas of the country to offer personalised maternity care tailored to women’s needs and preferences.

Read details of the programme here

Read the new Q&As here