Project Title: Optimizing Mothers' Milk for Preterm Infants

Short Title: OptiMoM

Principal Investigators: Deborah O'Connor PhD RD, Sharon Unger MD FRCPC

Co-Investigators: Christoph Fusch MD PhD FRCPC, Jill Hamilton MD FRCPC, 

Sheila Innis MSc PhD, Alexander Kiss PhD, Steven Miller MDCM FRCPC, Paul Pencharz MB ChB PhD FRCPC, Joanne Rovet PhD, Prakesh Shah MSc MBBS MD DCH MRCP FRCPC, Alain Stintzi PhD, Emily Tam MDCM MAS FRCPC, Margot Taylor PhD, Christopher Tomlinson MD FRCPC, Randi Zlotnik Shaul JD LLM PhD

Funding Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) 2013-2018

Promising advances in nutrition for VLBW infants are slow to be adopted into practice due to lack of high quality evidence.  Multi-institution collaboration with clinicians and policy makers engaged in research is essential to recruit the sample size required to test efficacy and safety and to ensure translation of findings into practice at study completion.  A programmatic approach that brings together highly skilled, complementary expertise enables comprehensive evaluation of outcomes across key domains relevant to nutrition: neurodevelopment, gut health, and growth and body composition.  Further, it allows embedding of sophisticated early biomarkers of neurodevelopment (e.g. neuroimaging), gut health (e.g. microbiome, inflammation) and body composition into ongoing randomized controlled trials thus developing tools for expediting evaluation of future nutrition interventions.


The three most urgent nutritional strategies requiring evaluation are:

  1. Use of pasteurized donor milk when mother's milk is not available

  2. Use of human milk-based nutrient fortifiers versus bovine-based fortifiers

  3. Adding a protein modular to human milk to promote growth


The OptiMoM program consists of three major studies and a collaboration project (ELSI).