Devices and kits are becoming more prevalent among hospitals, donor banks and consumers as the trend continues to expand.
Human milk analyzers are having a moment. This category includes devices that use light to analyze milk for macronutrient composition, as well as kits with test strips.
But why is the moment now?
Lactating parents, donor milk banks, and hospitals want to know: “What’s in my milk? Is it right for this infant? What, if anything, do we need to add to it to achieve optimal growth and health outcomes for the baby?”
The devices and kits provide varying levels of sample analytics such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates and other nutrient information. It is well established that these components fluctuate over the course of a lactating parent’s milk feeding/expressing journey, and what one lactating parent produces may differ substantially from what another lactating parent produces (even at the same gestational age).
On the consumer side, parents can purchase MyLee by MyMilk, MilkStrip, Lactation Lab test kits, and more devices and kits are coming out all the time. The MyLee consumer device collects a small sample of milk and senses the electrochemical properties of the sample. Information is then sent to a smartphone app with relevant information and notifications. MilkStrip also offers a consumer solution with test strips that are dipped into a milk sample. The patent pending strips analyze the milk for critical nutritional elements and the app provides diagnosis after 3 minutes and how to enhance the quality of the milk. Lastly, Lactation Lab provides similar milk analysis but instead of performing the analysis at home, the sample is shipped to their lab. Results are provided anywhere between one week to a few weeks based on the level of analysis chosen.
On the hospital and milk bank side, the Miris HMA and Unity SpectraStar, are the two options in the US market. There are also multiple analyzers marketed in Europe. Initially, these devices were used in clinical research and provided information regarding the calories and composition of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in human milk. The Miris HMA device focuses on evaluating the macronutrient content to ensure proper target fortification — adapting fortification to reach the desired goals sought by the clinicians. The SpectraStar XT series of analyzers uses infrared light to analyze samples in roughly 30 seconds. With a Windows 10 operating system, data can be integrated into relevant computer networks where needed by clinicians.
As milk analyzers are gaining popularity in consumer and hospital markets, Keriton is seeing them in diagnostic, clinical and even bedside use. Some of our current customers are using analyzers in their daily practice. Beyond our customers, we are hearing from children’s hospitals and NICUs whose clinical nutrition, lactation and nursing teams are using, or looking into using, a human milk analyzer.
This is exciting news because there are incredible opportunities for milk analyzer technologies and our feeding management system to collaborate. Allowing clinical teams to personalize feeding regimens and improve patient outcomes like never before.
On the consumer side, there are opportunities to integrate data from test kits directly into the Kare Mom app (available in the Apple App Store & Google Play). Imagine marrying macronutrient data to the current pumping data the app offers (volume, date/time, medications, allergies, etc.). Savvy parents can take full advantage. Of course, this information is more powerful when out-patient clinical teams use the data to tailor advice and coaching. Pumping volumes and quality of the milk can increase. Decision support on which milk bottles to use when can improve. All of these lead to better outcomes for patients.
In the hospital, analyzed milk data can surface for the lactation team, nutrition team, and even bedside nurses alongside feeding management information in Keriton. Our system already integrates with hospital EMRs to present patient feed order data (kCals, substrates, fortifiers, additives, etc.).
Adding milk analyzer data to it gives lactation teams a new layer of insight. They can choose to use it when advising on pumping practices or planning nutritional guidance. Further, the nutrition team can use analyzer data to precisely calculate the fortifiers and additives needed to create the ordered caloric and macronutrient targets. Even bedside nurses and/or patient care techs can use the analyzer data to prioritize bottles to feed based on identified contents, i.e. higher protein content earlier, and relevant expirations.
It truly is an exciting time for milk analyzers in the neonatal and pediatric care environments. These are just a few of the possibilities of how the data can be used to improve patient outcomes.
What are your ideas on how milk analysis can be used in your unit?
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