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New Grant for Breastfeeding Support and Education Program

Wed, 12/06/2017

Best possible nutrition ensured for congenital heart disease infants at The Heart and Vascular Institute of CHP

Jessica Davis, RN in the pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), and her co-investigators Yuliya Domnina, MD, and Tracy Baust, from the Department of Critical Care Medicine, have been awarded a two-year Frontline Innovation Program grant from The Beckwith Institute to improve breastfeeding success for medically fragile infants who have congenital heart disease (CHD). The new breastfeeding support and education program, based at the Heart and Vascular Institute of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, will increase nurse awareness and knowledge about breastfeeding and will give mothers tools to ensure greater breastfeeding confidence and satisfaction.

“We want these medically fragile babies to have the best possible opportunity to thrive while they undergo treatment for congenital heart disease,” explained Yuliya Domnina, assistant professor in the Department of Critical Care Medicine. “A CHD baby faces a heightened risk for comorbidities such as necrotizing enterocolitis or malnutrition while a mother faces obstacles to breastfeeding success.”

The investigators noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics identifies breast milk as the best source of nutrition for infants, with numerous studies showning that breast milk reduces the risk of comorbidities in medically fragile infants.  

Breastfeeding success is also hampered because nursing staff in the CICU often have minimal or inaccurate breastfeeding knowledge and little formal lactation support training. The Frontline Innovation grant will ensure standardized breastfeeding support for mothers by:

  • Implementing consistent, evidence-based staff and family education
  • Offering a biweekly support group
  • Remodeling the CICU breast pumping facilities
  • Providing breastfeeding and pumping equipment.

Davis, Domnina and Baust are excited to empower Heart Institute personnel with the knowledge and tools necessary to provide appropriate and needed breastfeeding support to the mothers of CHD infant. They expect mothers will gain an improved experience as a new parent and will build breastfeeding confidence that ultimately ensures their infant with CHD gets the very best nutrition possible.

The breastfeeding support and education program will be managed by Jessica Davis CICU RN with support from the Department of Critical Care Medicine’s Yuliya Domnina, MD, and Tracy Baust, clinical research coordinator.