This article is part of an occasional series on the ways we fulfill our mission.
An essential part of our mission is partnering with hospitals and others to contribute to research on breastfeeding, human milk, and milk banking. Our Medical and Research Advisory Boards help us do this.
The members of our Medical and Research Advisory Boards, led by Medical Director Robert Insoft, include physicians (in neonatology, pediatrics, obstetrics, gastroenterology, infectious disease), nurses, a NICU pharmacist, a NICU dietician, NICU and postpartum lactation consultants, and researchers in many areas of human milk and neonatology. They come from all over the Northeast, the area we serve.
Advising on Clinical Questions at Meetings and All Year
In addition to email contact when time-sensitive clinical questions arise, the boards meet together twice each year; board of directors and staff members are welcome to join in person or by phone. Our two-hour meetings have three agenda items:
- A brief presentation from one of our research board members on his or her research
- A review of one or more research articles on a particular topic, presented by a staff or medical board member
- Clinical or policy questions we are facing, about which we would like input from our medical experts
Topics in each of these areas have ranged widely and always generate lively and thoughtful discussion. Sometimes topics carry over from meeting to meeting as we learn more and new research becomes available. Some topics are directly relevant to our daily work. Others are updates and new research–the evidence base for practice. A few examples: human milk and the microbiome; use of analyzers and analyzed milk in the NICU; use of donor milk in full-term and late preterm nurseries; what we do and do not know about marijuana in human milk.
A Research Milestone: Human Milk Analyzers
For many of us, these meetings are a highlight of our year. At our last meeting in early December, the Medical and Research Boards reached an exciting milestone. Over the last couple of years, we have been discussing the use of human milk analyzers. It is a controversial topic in the field. Our discussion led to two of our researchers collaborating with the milk bank on a funded (we hope) research project on the nutritional content of our milk, and real time, quality improvement research on the best and most effective ways to use milk analysis in pooling and pasteurizing our milk. We often work with researchers by providing them with milk samples. In this case, we will be engaged actively, using data collected to improve our own practices and study them further.
Thoughtful cross-talk among practitioners in different professions, hospitals, and other settings; reports on cutting-edge research in the field; collaboration among clinicians, researchers and the milk bank: these all further our mission and, most importantly, get more safe and effective milk to more babies, and support more breastfeeding mothers and the practitioners who support them. This is what we are so proudly about.