Published on Wed, 09/28/2016 by Canadian Premature Babies Foundation

Breast Milk For Every Preemie

For Immediate Release

Breast Milk For Every Preemie

Canadian Premature Babies Foundation calls for an exclusive human milk diet for premature babies

Toronto – September 28, 2016 – A group of parents, clinical leaders, and researchers are calling on Canadian health care providers and provincial health systems to adopt a three-point strategy to improve health outcomes for premature babies.  According to the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation, an approach that ensures all premature babies receive an exclusive human milk diet would improve survival rates and ensure better health outcomes for Canada’s tiniest citizens.

Preterm births remain the leading cause of infant mortality and a growing health concern, causing 1/3 of all infant deaths. In Canada, approximately 1 in 12 babies are born preterm, putting them at greater risk of early death, serious health complications, and long-term developmental challenges. In order to protect premature infants, the CPBF is calling on Canadian health care providers and governments to take the necessary steps to maximize the use of human milk and to ensure the best, evidence-based, care for these infants.

“Despite being the leading cause of death among infants, Canada’s health care system is not doing all it can to provide preterm babies and their parents the care and resources necessary to support their development,” says Kate Robson, Executive Director of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation. “The power of an exclusive human milk diet for preemies is well documented, yet far too many premature children are being denied its benefits.  Canada and Canadians should expect better when it comes to our children.”

The CPBF is calling on health care providers and Canadian governments to take steps to ensure that all  premature babies in Canada have equal access to an exclusive human milk diet, regardless of where they might live. The availability of support for an exclusive human milk diet varies greatly across the country. Among the reasons Canadian preemies aren’t all getting the nutrition they need are the lack of breast milk pumps for mothers, a limited supply of donor milk in all parts of the country, and fortification of breast milk with cows’ milk instead of a human-milk based fortifier for extremely preterm infants.

The CPBF is calling on health service providers and governments to work together to roll out a three-point strategy to ensure premature babies receive the benefits of an exclusive human milk diet.

  1. Increase access to breast pumps for every mother, for hospital and home use;
  2. Improve access to donor milk across the country, and;
  3. Implement fortification of breast milk with a human milk-derived fortifier for infants born extremely preterm. 

“There is significant evidence to show that the use of an exclusive human milk diet for all low birth weight preterm babies would have an immediate impact on improving the lives of these children,” says Dr. Elizabeth Asztolas, a neonatologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “Mom’s own milk has been shown to reduce the risk of both short and long-term effects, including late-onset sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), and surgery related to NEC. This, in turn, would mean that more of these babies would survive into childhood, and survivors would experience better overall health.”

About the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation: The goal of the Canadian Premature Babies Foundation - Fondation pour Bébés Prématurés Canadiens (CPBF) is to provide a voice and a face to the major health issues associated with prematurity. CPBF is the only parent-led group in Canada dedicated to supporting children born preterm and their families. The Foundation’s mission is three fold; to reduce preterm birth through education and research, to support the best standards of care for premature babies, and to give premature babies and their families a voice across Canada. For more information on the Foundation, please visit


Media Contact:

Kate Robson: 
(416) 520-8865