Dr. Itzhak Levy and his colleagues have defined the possible risk factors of uinary tract infections in preterm infants and the potential role of breast-feeding in their development.
They performed a case controlled study that was conducted in a tertiary care neonatal intensive care unit between 1995 and 2003. Their study group included all premature infants less than 37 weeks gestation diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. They were compared with a gestational age and birth weight matched infant population without UTIs. This group was used as the control group. They had twice as many control infants to case infants. A total of 6,198 premature infants were admitted to the NICU during this study period with 56 included in the study group.
It was found that the main organism present was a klebsiella species. They found that male gender played a role along with the presence of a peripheral IV - which was significantly associated with urinary tract infection. Interestingly, they found breast milk was associated with a lower risk of infection with a 95% confidence interval and P value less than 0.0009. It seems obvious that the maternal immunoglobulins passed through breast milk must have a protective effect.