Approximately 50,000 premature babies weighing less than three pounds are born in the United States each year. These fragile newborns need the highest quality nutrition, which is why UC San Diego Health System developed the Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition (SPIN) program to help mothers produce sufficient breast milk for their premature infants. Now, that innovative program is available to anyone with computer and Internet access.
Jack and Riley Kaelin in UC San Diego Health System NICU.
“Human breast milk provides several benefits for our most vulnerable population of patients, including an increase in I.Q., stronger brain growth and a decreased rate of infection and intestinal complications, like necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which dropped from a rate of six to under two percent with the SPIN program,” said Lisa Stellwagen, MD, lactation director of the SPIN program.
“Producing milk also has health benefits for new mothers, including reducing blood loss after delivery and decreasing the risk for diabetes, stroke and the rate of breast and ovarian cancer.” Stellwagen added.
With a new Web site and online educational videos, SPIN is ready to broaden its awareness to mothers, fathers and families beyond the walls of UC San Diego Health System. The site has a variety of patient resources, such as pumping log sheets, milk recipes, lactation research and publications.
“Our online tools allow mothers to learn about our program and follow the steps at their own convenience. Since not all hospitals will let mothers and their premature babies have skin-to-skin contact, the videos will also serve as a teaching model for other health institutions and patients,” said Stellwagen. “SPIN’s overall goal is to improve the manner in which neonatal intensive care units across the nation support optimal nutrition and growth to premature infants.”
The number of premature babies who receive their mother’s milk when they go home from UC San Diego Health System’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has increased 15 percent since the SPIN program launched in 2008.
Approximately 100 families go through the SPIN program each year. One mother, Kimberly Kaelin, gave birth to twins at UC San Diego Health System at 25 weeks gestation. Riley and Jack weighed a little more than a pound each and lived in the NICU for six months.
Jack Kaelin wearing his mother's ring around his arm.
“When my twins were born, I could fit my wedding ring around their arms. They were so tiny my husband and I were scared to touch or hold them,” said Kaelin. “The SPIN program not only educated us as parents of premature babies, but it gave Riley and Jack life by showing me how to breastfeed them. I suddenly didn’t feel helpless anymore.”
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Media Contact: Michelle Brubaker, 619-543-6163,