Breastmilk Analysis Program | Neonatal Intensive Care Unit | UC Davis Children's Hospital

Pediatric Services

UC Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Breastmilk analysis program

Katherine Marlin holding her baby Cade who was born preterm. Cade has higher protein needs in his diet, so he got protein-fortified breast milk.
Katherine Marlin holding her baby Cade who was born preterm. Cade has higher protein needs in his diet, so he got protein-fortified breast milk.

Using a Miris human milk analyzer machine, premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) now get individualized, customized breast milk fortified with the nutrients they need to support their growth and wellness.

The machine analyzes a mother’s milk and provides information on what is needed to add to the breast milk to help the preemies grow. Based on the analysis for calorie content and key nutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates, the milk is fortified to suit each infant’s growth needs. 

Targeted nutrition for premature babies

Born at least three weeks before their expected delivery date, premature babies usually have very low birth weight. They need extra protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to help them grow and build strong bones. Fortified breast milk provides these babies with the nutrients needed to support their growth and brain development.

Why breast milk is important for your baby

Your breast milk is made special for your baby and contains antibodies and live cells that help protect your infant from illness – it is like medicine for your baby. Premature babies who get their mother’s milk have better brain development and fewer infections.

The Miris human milk analyzer machine was funded by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals across the nation.

Targeted fortification

The amount of nutrition in your breast milk will change over time and with your nutrition. Premature babies need extra protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals to help them grow and build strong bones. In the NICU, we fortify breast milk (add calories, fat, and proteins) to help preemies grow.

How do we do this?

Step 1: Collect mother’s own milk.

We ask mothers to provide a 5-milliliter sample for analysis. We provide a collection kit and easy instructions for mothers to use in collecting the sample.

Step 2: Analyze milk using Miris machine.

Using the 5-milliliter (1 teaspoon) sample, we can measure protein, fat, carbohydrates, and calories in the breast milk.

Step 3: Optimize the mother’s milk.

We calculate the needed calories, fat, and protein based on baby’s gestational age, weight, and growth. We fortify the milk only when needed, and only with what is required to help baby grow.

Liquid Gold milk for analysis, images of collecting sample
For our NICU families

How to participate

Families who have babies in the NICU are encouraged to participate in our breast milk analysis program. We provide participants with a “Liquid Gold” collection kit and ask mothers to provide a five-milliliter breast milk sample for analysis.

To learn more about the collection process, view our Liquid Gold Breast Milk Analysis brochure (PDF).

If you’ve already participated, please let us know about your experience by completing our survey.

Getting in touch with us

Contact us or make a referral

For referring physicians, please call our patient referrals and transfer phone number for assistance with neonatology services. 

We also provide neonatology telehealth consultations for physicians caring for infants throughout Northern California through our pediatric Clinical Telehealth Program.

Learn more about pediatric telehealth consultations

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

4301 X Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is located within UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

View map and directions

For physician referrals or appointments


To see one of our specialists, a referral is required from your child’s primary care physician.

For NICU transfers


For the hospital 24-hour operator


For physician telehealth consultations