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Health Alert: Breast Milk Nutrition Study

Updated: Friday, December 13 2013, 05:16 PM EST
LOS ANGELES, Cali. (Teresa Garcia, CBS) -- Premature babies face many struggles, but monitoring exactly what they're eating could give them a better chance to grow.

Researchers in Los Angeles are looking into whether personalizing a mother s breast milk could improve a baby s growth rate.

Kristy Wright's son "Jai" has been living in the NICU after being born 13 weeks early.  After three months, he is finally breastfeeding on his own.

Getting proper nutrition is critical for premature babies to grow well. That's why doctors at Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center want to make sure preemies are getting what they need.  They launched a study to analyze breast milk.

Breast milk is supposed to averages about 20 calories per ounce.  But after testing more than 200 samples, doctors are finding breast milk can vary, from as low as 14 calories up to 24.

Dr. Charles Simmons says, "We're finding that 10 to 20 percent of the samples would fall low in a range where we would likely recommend supplementation."

Jai's mom, Kristy, is one of the moms taking part in the breast milk study.

She says, "It's really important I think that women in my situation do everything that we can to help the doctors within this field."

In the study's next phase, doctors will add nutritional supplements to some preemies breast milk, to see if it leads to quicker weight gain and shorter hospital stays. Health Alert: Breast Milk Nutrition Study

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