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EMNODN-NEC Research Study

Evaluating how neonatal units can support parents and reduce the risk of NEC in babies born more than 8 weeks early.

Janine Abramson, Research Nurse, University of Nottingham

Shalini Ojha, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Nottingham

Feeding babies their own mother’s milk can reduce the risk of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). We who provide care to preterm babies and their families must remain fully committed to supporting mothers to breastfeed. Having a preterm baby is a stressful experience and all families need support and care to be able to breastfeed.

Care of babies in the NHS is organised via Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) which are groups of neonatal units that work together to ensure that all babies and their families receive high-quality care that is accessible to all as close to home as possible.

In the East Midlands, we are fully committed to supporting own mother’s milk feeding. To promote this and help units work to reduce the risk of NEC, the East Midlands Neonatal Operational Delivery Network (EMNODN) has created a care bundle. This care bundle describes the support that parents should have to help them feed their breast milk to their babies and other practices that may reduce the risk of NEC.

We are a group of researchers based at the University of Nottingham. We are working with the EMNODN including all the neonatal units in the region and parents who have preterm babies to look at how the care bundle is being used and what is the effect of using it on rates on own mother’s milk feeding and NEC in the regional units. The study is funded by the Research for Patient Benefit programme of the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR).

We will also look at UK-wide information held in the national database to study factors such as how and when babies get milk, choice of milk feeds, use of medications, donor human milk and other medical care that may influence the care of babies at risk of NEC.

We will speak with parents from all over East Midlands to listen to their experience of having a preterm baby, how their baby is fed, and how they feel about the support and care they received. We are excited about hearing what parents will say to us. We aim to take their views back to the EMNODN so that they can change and improve care. We will also share the results with parents via NEC UK and other parent groups.

If you are interested in finding out more about the study or sharing your view about NEC, please do contact us by emailing

Janine Abramson| Research Nurse University of Nottingham

Shalini Ojha| Clinical Associate Professor University of Nottingham

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