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Media release - Research paper on neonatal breastfeeding wins award

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Media release

15 November 2021

Research paper on neonatal breastfeeding wins award

A research paper on nutritional management of moderate to late preterm babies has won Liggins Institute PhD candidate Tanith Alexander the Paediatric Society’s New Investigator Award. The award, sponsored by Glaxo SmithKline, was presented on 4 November at the Society’s virtual Annual Scientific Meeting.

Tanith, originally from Pretoria (South Africa), has worked as a paediatric dietitian at Middlemore Hospital, specialising in neonatal nutrition for the past 14 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition (Massey University), a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics (Wollongong University) and will be submitting her thesis at the end of the month.

The research paper - nutritional management of moderate-and late-preterm infants commenced on intravenous fluids pending mother’s own milk: Cohort analysis from the DIAMOND trial.

DIAMOND stands for DIfferent Approaches to MOderate & late preterm Nutrition: Determinants of feed tolerance, body composition and development.

Tanith says, “We know breastmilk is best for babies, but for babies born early, they aren’t able to physically breastfeed immediately after birth. Therefore, we need to provide nutritional support until they have the skills needed to breastfeed”.

“The DIAMOND study investigates the different ways of providing nutrition to preterm babies born between 32- and 35-weeks’ gestation and how this affects their fat stores and brain development.”

“At the moment, we don’t know very much about how the nutrition we provide to moderate to late preterm babies affects their growth and development. That’s why the DIAMOND study is so important - it’s the first of its kind and will be the biggest study of moderate to late preterm babies in the world.”

“As part of the cohort analysis of the DIAMOND study, our results revealed that the Māori babies were more likely to receive infant formula, and this occurred earlier than all other ethnicities. The Māori babies were also the least likely to go home from hospital breastmilk feeding compared with Caucasian babies.”

“We plan to investigate the causes of these disparities with future research. We need to design and implement quality initiatives to support and encourage mothers to provide breast milk, with a specific focus on Māori mothers,” she said.


16_05_17 Staff photos_Tanith_Alexander_0617

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