The value of a fully digital approach in Human Milk Banks

Digital transformation, especially in this period of global pandemics, has become a fundamental factor to improve processes, efficiency and productivity in all kinds of industrial sectors. Healthcare makes no exception, and can now leverage innovative technologies able to drastically impact the quality of services provided to patients, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled medical devices, or the application of blockchain technology to electronic health records, just to mention a few.

The use of digital tools can also significantly improve the way healthcare providers work, streamline and simplify their workflow, and finally enable them to focus more on what is most important in their mission, their patients’ care.

Narrowing down to human milk and feeding management for hospitalized term and preterm infants, few challenges apply. We know the extraordinary work that both Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) and Human Milk Banks (HMBs) perform every day to save infants’ lives and ensure they get all the nutrition they need to thrive. Innovative tools can support them in their daily work, not only providing new ways to personalize patients’ care, but also to automate, and therefore simplify operations, save time and costs, and avoid potential errors.

Unfortunately, NICUs and HMBs in Europe have different levels of digitalization, ranging from highly automated software systems to a poorly integrated mix of different tools, including dedicated software programmes, generic spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel, and paper-based records. One of the main issues is that each NICU and HMB has a specific procedure for managing human milk, collecting and storing the milk in the freezers, testing the milk for bacterial load, calculating the fortification needed for the infants, and so on. Digitalizing such variability of processes and improving their effectiveness through dedicated software requires a certain level of customization. This explains why NICUs and HMBs often use software solutions designed or even developed internally, or still exploit paper-based approaches or Excel files to record operations and calculate milk fortification.

We firmly believe that process automation through a dedicated end-to-end software solution like Preemie’s can bring several advantages, by reducing at the bare minimum human operations that waste time and generate errors (e.g. feeding an infant with the wrong milk, errors in calculating the milk fortification for the infant), and at the same time speeding up processes, especially when handling and processing human milk.

After having interacted with a large number of both NICUs and HMBs in Europe, it is worth to outline just a few examples of how digitalization could generate value. They don’t mean to be exhaustive, of course, but just to provide a sense of how a dedicated software solution can impact at different levels. These examples are related to the way HMBs manage the milk from reception to delivery, manage the processes at the HMB and the related data generated.

Control over the expiration date of the milk

This seems a simple operation, but still HMB operators in some cases do it visually by checking the bottles in the freezers. An automated way to infer such information in the software could prevent HMBs from losing expired milk, but also help them in selecting which milk should be delivered first to avoid aging.

Milk logistics

Store and know the position of the milk, easily retrieve the milk, select the milk to be delivered based on specific factors (age, donor, type of milk): all such operations can be streamlined through the applications of filters in the software to select the most suitable milk to be prepared and also to identify where the milk has been stored in the freezer and in the related compartments, thus saving time for the operator.

Administration work

Keeping track of the milk history seems to be one of the most time-consuming operations at the HMB. Registering the milk and its source, managing and storing the different batches received over time and how they are processed (pooling, thawing, pasteurizing, etc.), recording and managing requests for milk coming from hospitals, keeping track of milk prepared and delivered: they are just a few operations that require time and efforts for being recorded and tracked over time. All of them can be managed digitally, through software solutions that enable fast data entry, and above all keep all data recorded and readily available in case the operator needs to access whatever information – for instance, the milk batches that need to be pooled, the list and features of milk requested by hospitals, and so on. This also enables operators to be more focused on the actual operations to be performed on the milk, with less distractions for administrative work that could lead to milk contamination or mistakes.

Matching milk type and recipient

Milk’s content varies depending on various factors that can be tracked, including the fact of being term or preterm milk, single donor’s milk or pooled milk. Each HMB and NICU manages differently the milk based on such features. For instance, some HMBs do not pool milk while others do, others try to administer only colostrum-like milk to very fragile infants, while others provide milk to hospitals mainly based on logistics issues. In some cases, operators write down manually information about the milk on the bottle or in paper registries, which makes very time-consuming for them to retrieve the milk which matches specific recipients. An automated solution could easily support them in milk selection or even suggest this match based on pre-set instructions.

Tailored pooling

This is a more sophisticated example of how digitalization and innovative technologies can drive a step change in how neonatologists work and personalize care. After having analysed the milk received from donors by using the Preemie sensor, our system can suggest which milk batches should be pooled in order to reach certain levels of macronutrients (for instance, high or low protein levels), so as to match the specific needs of an infant. Needless to say, every operator and neonatologist we spoke was enthusiastic about this.

Clearly, similar examples can be mentioned in relation to the activity in the NICU, and also in the way NICUs and HMBs interact. In a following blog article, we will analyse in more detail how a digitalized approach can help neonatologists and nurse in calculating milk fortification, as well as parenteral and enteral nutrition, and how a fully integrated system can facilitate interactions between NICUs and HBMs, streamlining operations, enhancing transparency and traceability, and finally improving patients care.

Preemie Sensor Wins Gold and Silver Awards from the International Design Awards (IDA)

The Preemie Sensor human milk analyser unique and simplistic design puts this medical device into a category of its own!

London, United Kingdom February, 2021 – We are pleased to announce that Preemie Sensor has received two awards for its beautiful, ergonomically friendly design from the 14th Annual Edition of the International Design Awards (IDA) within the Children’s Product Category. A Gold prize winner in the Pregnancy and Maternity and a Silver prize winner in the Health and Baby Care.

When we were first approached to design a medical device that would analyse breast milk, we challenged ourselves to do something different. We wanted to create something extraordinary that went beyond complicated medical interfaces typically seen in healthcare. This is why we think the colour, size, texture and simplicity in design resonates not only with the IDA Jury but with professionals within the industry as well.

– Massimiliano Datti and Alessandro Spalletta, Preemie Industrial Design Team – 

This year IDA received thousands of submissions from over 80 countries in 5 primary design categories: Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Product Design, and Fashion Design. The international Jury evaluated the entries and sought out designs beyond the ordinary, seeking those that reflected the revolutionary leading the way into the future.

“The IDA seeks out truly visionary designers showcasing creativity and innovation. As the world struggled with an unprecedented challenge in 2020, the IDA received a record number of outstanding entries which presented the Jury with an enormous task in selecting the winners,” commented Jill Grinda, VP Marketing and Business Development as stated in the IDA press release.

Receipt of this internationally celebrated award comes within months of the Preemie Sensor garnering the prestigious German Design Award in the category of Medical, Rehabilitation and Healthcare

“When developing the Preemie sensor, we wanted to keep the functionality and configuration as user friendly as possible. Its simplistic design makes it easy to use for NICUs and Human Milk Banks professionals.” Remarked Isabel Correa, CEO and Founder of Tellspec LTD. “There is nothing else like it on the market; the Preemie system is the  first complete platform for the management of preterm feeding. We are honoured by the recognition given to us by the IDA Jury.”

The Ultimate Preemie and Mom Reference Guide

Links to websites that inform, inspire, support, advocate, educate and feed the soul.

There is a tremendous amount of information on the web. Trying to learn more about your preemie baby can be overwhelming, so we created this list so you don’t have to. We tried to include links to sites that we felt would benefit you and your preemie.  

If you want to add to this list, please email us at; after all, sharing is caring, and knowledge is power!


We focused on publications that provide a section within their website dedicated to preterm babies.


A shortlist of resources to support the mind, body and soul as you take care of your newborn preemie.

  • Motherly an online community that inspires and connects.
  • Today’s Parent provides you parenting, baby, pregnancy and family insights through real-life stories and expert advice. 
  • Absolutely Mama designed for the modern mom who wishes to forge her own path, filled with great insights and advice on parenting, lifestyle and fashion.
  • Mother&Baby covers every aspect of being a mom from pregnancy to baby to toddler.
  • Mother Magazine is designed to provide stories, lifestyle and health information for the modern mom.
  • Very Well family is a catch-all site with content ranging from stories to activities to online tools covering all aspects from pregnancy to raising healthy kids of all ages and stages to the latest news.
  • Hand to Hold “You are not alone” This site provides a soft and gentle approach. They offer a one-on-one peer mentoring program, along with blogs, podcasts, social networks and resources for in-hospital programs for NICU families, Bereaved Families and NICU professionals.



Sometimes mothers cannot provide their own milk to their newborns, and the reasons vary from not producing enough milk to physically being unable to breastfeed due to illness. Human milk banks operate to help provide the milk required to help babies grow, especially vulnerable low birth weight infants. If you have breastmilk to spare, please #donate it to your local human milk bank.

Locate your human milk bank within your country. Please note that some milk banks are located within the hospital itself.

Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

For additional information and resources on human milk, please visit PATH organisation, a global non-profit that improves public health.


These initiatives focus on helping communities worldwide by addressing the issues around preterm births, conducting research and providing guidelines that advocate for change. You can support these organisations through donations as well. 


An overview of the research article on ‘Human milk bank and personalized nutrition in the NICU: a narrative review’

Originally published in the European Journal of Pediatrics, November 27, 2020. “This narrative review presents salient data of our current knowledge and concerns regarding milk feeding of preterm infants in the NICU, with special emphasis on personalized donor milk as a result of establishing a Personalised Nutrition Unit (PNU).” Written by Manuel Sánchez Luna, Sylvia Caballero Martin and Carmen Sánchez Gómez-de-Orgaz.

Today approximately 15 million babies are born prematurely and is ‘the leading cause of mortality among children aged under five years, with a majority of deaths due to preterm birth occurring in the neonatal period.

Nutrition is Key

To fight this problem, appropriate nutrition is a critical element in improving preterm babies’ survival and outcomes. Sometimes, instead of the mother’s own milk (MOM), donor milk (DM) from a similar gestational and lactation stage is given. This milk, provided by human milk banks (HMB), is composed of pooled term milk at various lactation stages. In some instances, they are far from having the characteristics of the MOM. In these circumstances, personalised fortification using DM is the ideal approach to feed preterm infants.

Preterm Milk Composition

A contributing factor for growth failure in preterm infants is low protein intake. Studies have shown that the mother’s milk of premature infants has significantly more protein, nitrogen, and amino acids during the first weeks of lactation. This unique combination of nutrients of the preterm milk properties contributes to the premature infants’ rapid growth rates. Also unique to breastmilk are human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are known to be a strong protection for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). It is essential to state that the breastmilk’s pasteurization does not affect HMO content and that no differences were found between unpasteurized and pasteurized human milk for any or severe NEC.

Personalised Fortification

Currently, 20% of donated breastmilk comes from mothers of preterm infants. In Brazil, a leader of human milk banks, 44% of their donors are mothers of preterm infants, and if the mother’s milk nutritional requirements are not met, then donor milk is often given to babies. In both cases, MOM or DM, personalised fortification is performed inside NICUs. A significant reduction in NEC and late-onset sepsis was correlated with the usage of personalized fortification. Due to the personalized fortification, a shorter use of central venous catheters for parenteral nutrition, which is the administering of nutrition intravenously and better growth during hospitalization was also associated with this.


Mother’s own milk is the healthiest and most convenient way of providing the essential nutrients to newborns. If the mother cannot provide her breastmilk, donor milk is a good alternative. On the other side, and as the milk composition varies with gestational age and stage of lactation, personalised feeding using donor milk from mothers with preterm infants, combined with personalised targeted fortification, is the optimal approach.

We would like to thank Dr. Manuel Sánchez Luna, Professor Neonatology Division Hospital Materno Infantil Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, España for his continued research on personalized donor milk working towards the establishment of in the development of a personalized nutrition unit within hospitals in Spain. You can follow Dr. Luna on Twitter @manutoronto13

Introducing our Preemie Feeding Tracker and Preemie Fortification software for Neonatal Intensive Care Units

The combination of these two software works in conjunction with the Preemie sensor, allowing neonatologists and nurses to: test milk composition, freshness, and safety; automatically suggest the fortification needed for each preterm infant; store and keep track of key data about infants’ nutrition and growth; track and manage each infant’s feeding and correlate it with the infant’s growth; prescribe the next fortification needed.

  • Collects and stores the results of each milk analysis, with the following parameters being measured:

Composition: Total Protein, Total Lipids, Lactose, Total Human Milk Oligosaccharides, Energy

Freshness (based on bacteria count)

Safety (based on somatic cell count)

  • Automatically calculates the suggested targeted fortification and enables a digital prescription of the fortification on a daily basis;
  • Customization of fortification guidelines, fortifiers used, and introduction to fortification;
  • Stores data about infant feeding (prescription and actual intake) and growth, in compliance with GDPR;
  • Comprehensive management of each infant’s nutritional intake and growth over time, allowing the user to correlate actual intake and growth indicators, and to get insights into the evolution of the infant’s health status;
  • Produce, save, and export reports on infants’ nutrition and growth.

How Our Preemie Preterm Feeding Management System Works



To learn more about what Preemie can do to help vulnerable infants get a healthy start in life, please contact us to arrange a demo or to use our Preemie sensor and software in your research.

Preemie Systems Speaking and Sponsoring at the HCSA Conference 2020

HCSA Conference 2020

Preemie systems is pleased to announce that it will be the part of this year’s HCSA Conference – Past, Present and Future, as a sponsor and speaker.

This year’s virtual conference and exhibition of The HCSA Annual Conference & Exhibition (HCSA Reunite 2020), will occur on the 17th and 18th of November. This event holds a special place within the community of clinicians and other key stakeholders of NHS procurement, highlighting the need to improve, adopting common standards, introducing key performance indicators, implementing better information systems and innovation. It’s also an opportunity for future connections, enhancement of professional networks and engagement possibilities.

Preemie’s Systems CEO Isabel Correa (Hoffmann), is honoured to speak and present on day two ‘The Preemie System: Connectivity, Traceability and Transparency in the Routine Analysis of Human Milk Composition’.

The Preemie system, which personalises the concept of target fortification using our award-winning Preemie sensor (a portable and affordable NIR sensor specifically calibrated for human milk), is thrilled to be part of this event.

Visit our Booth!

Preemie System Wins German Design Award for its Preemie Sensor in the Category of Medical, Rehabilitation and Health Care

German Design Award

Preemie sensor is a small, portable device created for neonatologists, nurses, and human milk bank professionals to analyse milk for its nutritional value, spoilage, and safety.

November 13, 2020 – London, England | The German Design Award is one of the most prestigious awards on the European and international scene in the design sector. Only the best products and innovative projects are awarded, after a selection by a commission of renowned experts, who are members of the German Design Council. We are proud to announce that our Preemie sensor is a recipient of this prestigious award in the category of Medical, Rehabilitation and Healthcare.

We believe that participation in this competition, which over the years has become a showcase for the best international projects, provides a global platform that strategically positions the Preemie System with respect to the design of the products it develops.

“Winning this prestigious award is a great honour for our team,” says Isabel Correa, CEO and Founder of Tellspec LTD, the company that is developing the Preemie System, “It confirms our company’s ability to innovate across the board in all aspects of product development, including design. The German Design Award also allows our Preemie sensor to be present in the different European and International communication channels, further amplifying the scope of our mission of helping preterm infants get a healthy start in life”.

The design of the Preemie sensor was developed to reflect the brand, and took into account operational functionality, portability, weight, and ergonomics, with the aim of simplifying our users’ understanding of how to use the device. This design flow is reflected in the user interface of our Preemie software ecosystem:

A great deal of work has been done on the language of the device and on the semantic design aspects, so as to convey the perception of a smart and easy-to-use product. The Preemie sensor, soft in colour compared to other medical devices, at the same time is portable and durable. Our goal was to create a product design which stands out amongst commonly used medical devices within the marketplace, for its user-friendly design, thus making it disruptive and innovative.


From ancient times to the present day, the sharing of breast milk has had an interesting history from myth to misconception to a revolution of support by global agencies such as the World Health Organisation and UNICEF. This month’s blog touches upon the history of breast milk collection and analysis past, present, and future.


In ancient times, the ‘collection’ of human milk was simply nursing of the infant by family members, friends, or even strangers. The earliest recorded account was around 1800 BC during the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi. Between 100 and 400AD, an analysis of determining the milk’s quality and consistency was done using the fingernail test by placing a drop of breast milk on the nail. If the milk ran when the finger moved – too watery. If when the fingernail was turned downward, and the milk clung to the nail – too thick.

“It takes a village to raise a child” – African proverb.

The wet nurse’s evolution went from a community of family members and friends helping one another to women who served the wealthy. In fact, a wet nurse was a reputable, well-paying profession that earned more than a general labourer during the Victoria era.

As the popularity of wet nursing declined by the mid-19th century with human milk being replaced by alternative animal milk sources, a physician named Theodor Escherich led the way in pediatric infectious disease research. He discovered that breastfed babies’ intestinal bacteria greatly contrasted with infants fed with an animal milk alternative. Under the tutelage of Escheric, who in 1902 became the Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Vienna and Director of the St. Anna Children’s Hospital in Vienna, Vienna opened up the very first human milk bank in 1909. Human milk was pooled and pasteurized before distribution as milk analysers weren’t invented until the 1980s for the dairy industry, with human milk analysers to follow years later.


Today, there are hundreds of human milk banks worldwide of individual milk banks overseen by various national associations such as the European Milk Bank Association, Human Milk Banking Association of North America and the Rede Brasileira de Bancos de Leite Humano in Brazil. Women generously donate their breast milk to help the most vulnerable low-birth-weight infants in hospitals’ Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

Human milk banks are the gateway to supplying breast milk to hospitals. Their service is essential as they are “responsible for recruiting breast milk donors, collecting donated milk, and then processing, screening, storing, and distributing the milk to meet infants’ specific needs for optimal health.” (PATH report on Strengthening Human Milk Banking – A Global Implementation Framework). At times, the screening process may also include the use of a human milk analyser to measure the macronutrient content in breast milk, like fat, protein, and energy. This additional information assists NICU doctors to decide the type and amount of fortification required to supplement the breast milk given to meet each preterm infant’s needs.

Early in the development of our Preemie system, we interviewed several milk bank managers and neonatologists to get a better understanding of their needs for human milk analysis. It was important for us to develop an end-to-end solution for precise human milk analysis that met their needs. From these interviews we heard the following comments:

  • “It would be amazing to have software that could do the fortification calculations.

  • “We need software that can track the nutritional intake and correlate it to the infant’s growth.

  • “It would be great to have a smaller device that rapidly and easily tests the donor milk composition”

  • “We want to use as little milk as possible while performing the composition analysis.”

  • “We need to automate the process of fortification, and discard manual calculations;

  • “We need an affordable device that can test the milk freshness so we know if we should use the milk for infant feeding.”

  • “I need a simple and easy-to-use device that can test the milk composition but that doesn’t require recurrent calibrations.”

  • “It would be great if after testing the donor’s milk we could print a nutritional label with that information.”

  • “Would be great if we could test several donor milks and have the software tell us what milk should be pooled together so as to optimize the pooled milk with the highest possible nutritional quality.”



Based on the feedback, we are currently developing our Preemie System that can meet the requirements and needs of NICUs and of HMBs. You spoke and we listened!

Preemie Systems Joins the 2nd International Donor Milk Research Congress

European Milk Bank Association

Preemie systems is pleased to announce that it will be the main sponsor and speaker at this year’s 2nd International Donor Milk Research Congress.

The European Milk Bank Association (EMBA) virtual research meeting will take place on October 2nd, 2020 and will focus on “Human Milk Donation and Breastfeeding in the COVID-19 Era”.

The European Milk Bank Association (EMBA) gathers over 200 milk banks operating in more than 20 countries throughout Europe. This congress will reunite the most reputable researchers from all over the world, and is one of the most exclusive events in the field.

Preemie’s Systems CEO Isabel Correa (Hoffmann), is honoured to be presenting ‘The Preemie System: Connectivity, Traceability and Transparency in the Routine Analysis of Human Milk Composition’, at EMBA’s prestigious event.

The Preemie system, which improves the concept of target fortification introducing a portable and affordable NIR sensor specifically calibrated for human milk, is glad to be part of this event.

Are you a human milk bank? Take a couple of seconds to learn more about the #HumanMilk4Life campaign or to participate, please visit our webpage.

The Preemie Systems is the first end-to-end solution to individualised, targeted milk fortification by taking into account the unique chemistry of human milk in a rapid, reliable, cost-effective, and portable sensor with state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms and dedicated software for analysing, fortifying, tracking, and reporting information about infant growth and its correlation to the milk fortification given. The Preemie System offers a digital, transparent, and comprehensive solution for all Neonatal Intensive Care Units and human milk banks.

Launch of the #HumanMilk4Life Campaign

Mum playing with newborn infants' feet

Celebrating the extraordinary power of human milk and the role that human milk banks have within their communities by sharing their stories, raising awareness, and educating women on the value of human milk donations.

September 22, 2020 – London, England | Today, Preemie Systems launches the #HumanMilk4Life digital campaign to raise awareness of the importance of human milk, its life-saving properties, and the need for women to donate their breast milk to help vulnerable low-birth-weight infants.

We believe that sharing these informative ads, offered at no cost to the human milk banks (HMBs), is essential as we wish to:

  1. Raise awareness of local human milk banks and their services
  2. Raise breastfeeding awareness and the importance of mothers donating their milk
  3. Highlight the collaboration between the human milk banks and the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU)
  4. Emphasize the importance of the life-giving nutritional and biological properties of human milk

The #HumanMilk4Life social media posts are designed to engage the target audience with information about HMB services and the need for human milk donations. Each post will connect social audiences to their local human milk bank, hospitals, and associations with links to their website and tags to their social media platforms. Advertisements will be placed on Facebook and Instagram with accompanying posts on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“We are pleased to announce that Italy will be the launch-pad for the Preemie Systems #HumanMilk4Life campaign,” remarked Professor Guido E. Moro, President of the Italian Association of Donated Human Milk Banks (Associazione Italiana delle Banche del Latte Umano Donato, (AIBLUD). “This campaign will help raise awareness of the need for human milk donations within our communities and help mothers and their preterm babies.”

The #HumanMilk4Life campaign will start in Italy and flow to other selected human milk banks throughout Europe.

“Breast milk is valuable, especially for vulnerable preterm infants concerning their short and long-term health, and the mother’s milk may not be available, especially in the first period after delivery.” remarked Professor Enrico Bertino, President of the European Milk Bank Association (EMBA) and Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Neonatology Department at the University of Turin (AOU Città della Salute e della Scienza “Donated human milk is essential because it represents the most valid alternative to breast milk and is the first choice when breast milk is not available. For premature babies, it can be considered as a life-saving drug.”

Although breast milk is the optimal choice for preterm infants, sometimes the mother is unable to provide the amount required to feed her baby. This is when donors’ milk is needed and where milk banks help, facilitating the process of collecting and distributing human milk to their associated hospitals.

Breast milk is not just nourishment for vulnerable infants, but a vital gift that helps them grow up healthy!

The main benefits for premature infants who receive donated human milk instead of formula are improved food tolerance, faster achievement of full enteral feeding, improved bowel growth and maturation, decreased risk of enterocolitis necrotizing, bronchodysplasia and retinopathy of the premature baby and better neurodevelopment, as indicated in the recent AIBLUD and EMBA recommendations.

To learn more about the #HumanMilk4Life campaign or to participate, please visit our webpage.

The Preemie Systems is the first end-to-end solution to individualised, targeted milk fortification by taking into account the unique chemistry of human milk in a rapid, reliable, cost-effective, and portable sensor with state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms and dedicated software for analysing, fortifying, tracking, and reporting information about infant growth and its correlation to the milk fortification given. The Preemie System offers a digital, transparent, and comprehensive solution for all Neonatal Intensive Care Units and human milk banks.

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