Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Degree Level





Ballentine, Hope

Committee Member/Reader

Hawley, Terria


Breast milk and donor human milk is used in the prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants born prior to 37 weeks gestation and those with very low birth weight. This process occurs through direct breast feeding and tube feeding. The aim of this study was to compare the use of breast milk and donor milk to the use of formula feed in preterm infants. A systematic review was conducted using articles collected from CINAHL and PubMed and was guided by PRISMA guidelines. A total of 15 studies that met criteria were analyzed by purpose, variables, study design, population characteristics, and results. In total 629 donor human milk banks, 2557 cases analyzed, 6487 preterm infants, 227 very preterm infants, 926 low birth weight infants, 24,302 very low birth weight infants, and 3174 extremely low birth weight infants from eight different regions were studied. The analysis reveals a decreased incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis in neonates born before 37 weeks gestation when breast/human milk and donor milk were used in comparison to preterm formula feed. However, further research needs to be conducted to understand the pathophysiology of the disease for true preventive care and proper intervention of the disorder to occur.


Neonatal, breast milk, donor milk, preterm infants, formula, gastrointestinal