9th International Conference on Human Milk Science and Innovation (ICHMSI) in Lisbon

This year’s ICHMSI featured international sessions on the latest findings in human milk, as well as first-hand experiences from mothers of preterm babies. EFCNI is proud to have once again partnered with the conference, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal, and online from 1–2 February. It was a great event with memorable talks and meeting familiar faces as well as new ones. Renowned scientists from around the world presented their research-based views on why and how human milk can benefit preterm and sick babies, and frequent Q&A sessions gave an eager audience the chance to debate with the experts. Professors Angelika Berger and Michael Zemlin did a fantastic job leading the event, introducing the speakers and moderating the discussions.

In the afternoon of the first day, the room fell silent. Attendees listened intently as EFCNI Chairwoman Silke Mader and Lívia Nagy Bonnard from the Hungarian parent organisation Melletted a Helyem Egyesület gave two moving accounts of what it means and takes to be a parent of a preterm baby in the NICU. Silke Mader emphasised the importance of active parental involvement in the feeding process: “A baby born too soon, too small and too sick is a nutritional emergency! How can we talk about the benefits of mother’s own milk when we do not let the mothers in?” She went on to make a strong case for lion mothers and parents as the primary caregiver in the NICU.

Lívia Nagy Bonnard then followed with a very personal account, “18 Years of NICU Rollercoaster: An Extreme Preterm Baby with Lifelong Consequences”, which was just as powerful and poignant. We applaud both speakers for being so brave in sharing their stories and giving a (mostly scientific) audience a glimpse of the challenges that remain long after leaving the NICU.

We were delighted to welcome further representatives from our network of parent organisations: Dina Hedinger and Désirée Kost from Frühchen Schweiz attended as well as Estela Coutinho to whom we owe a special thanks for bringing her network XXS to the conference in her home country of Portugal.

On-site, participants were able to pick up a copy of our factsheet “Fortification: nutritional additives for preterm and sick babies”, produced in collaboration with Prolacta Bioscience, the conference organisers. All presentations and Q&A sessions were recorded and will be available for replay here:

EFCNI would like to sincerely thank Prolacta Bioscience for the opportunity to co-partner this event.