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House Bill Boosts Nutrition for NICU Babies

Infants fighting for their lives shouldn’t also have to fight insurance barriers to get optimal nutrition. That’s the message behind a bill recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Morgan McGavery.

H.R. 7141, the Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition Act, builds upon McGavery’s own personal experience. His twins spent 99 days in the NICU after their birth in 2011, and he partially credits their survival to nutrition products that he had to fight his insurer to obtain.  

His bill would ensure that human milk-based human milk fortifiers would no longer be denied by insurers, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  

Fortified Human Milk’s Value for Preterm Infants 

Babies born preterm, or with very low birth weights, often spend their first weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. During these decisive days, some babies rely on a fortifier to supplement mom’s milk or donor milk. These fortifiers enhance the milk’s protein, calories and other vital nutrients, which are essential to a vulnerable baby’s growth and development. Human milk-based human milk fortifiers, however, are not always covered by insurance. 

This means that some babies will receive a cow milk-derived fortifier, which their delicate digestive systems can struggle to break down. That puts babies at risk for complications, including necrotizing enterocolitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection of the intestines and colon. Infants who contract the infection face a mortality rate as high as 50%.  

To avoid serious complications like necrotizing enterocolitis, vulnerable infants need access to an exclusively human milk diet, including human milk-based human milk fortifiers.  

Meeting Babies’ Needs  

Human milk provides the best all-around nutrition for all infants, especially those born with very low birthweight or other developmental risks. Mother’s milk provides optimal nutrition for a healthy infant, as well as anti-infective and probiotic elements to protect the child. Fortifiers provided the added nutritional boost necessary to help NICU babies reach the ideal growth and development.  

Every infant deserves the best possible start. Ensuring insurance coverage for human milk-based human milk fortifiers helps bridge the gap in health care and set all babies on course toward their healthiest future.

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