I have heard that rice cereal is not good to thicken with breast milk. Do you have research or articles we could use for a discussion with our neonatologists because they prefer we use it as they do not want commercial thickeners at all. We have discussed gel mix but they do not want us to use it. Any suggestions?
The many dieticians I have met have explained it to me as follows. It is the enzymes (such as Amylase, Lipase and Protease). The enzymes in breast milk serve a variety of functions, some of which we do not even know yet. Some enzymes are necessary for the function of the breasts and the production of breast milk, some enzymes help a baby with digestion, and some are essential a child’s development. Amylase is the main polysaccharide-digesting enzyme in MBM and it digests starch. So it averts binding of the MBM with rice cereal. Our MDs don’t allow commercial thickeners, either and gel mix is not approved by FDA for preterm in NICU. However some NICUs do.
Doesn’t leave a lot of options so one must look individually with the team at each infant, based on history, whether he can breastfeed (which is typically safer for most preterms unless there is a structural airway problem – and then breastfeeding not necessarily more protective). Depending on the etiology of the aspiration, plan will be different. Some infants may have a period of PO feeding formula (which has increased viscosity compared to MBM) or slightly thickened formula with rice cereal – not ideal ever, but may need to balance multiple factors and utilize as an interim plan related to likelihood of, and timing of, etiology for bolus mis-direction resolving.