Sharon Perrella
Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, M310 The University of Western Australia 35 Stirling Highway Crawley, WA 6009


A/Prof Donna Geddes W/Prof Peter Hartmann W/Prof Karen Simmer

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Sharon Perrella

Thesis title

The effect of different types of nutrition on the gastrointestinal response of the preterm infant

Thesis summary

Delayed gastric emptying often impacts the progression of feeding in preterm infants, yet the impact of feed composition is not well understood. A sonographic method of assessing gastric volume and contents was validated and used to explore repeatability and the effects of breastmilk composition on emptying.

Patterns of gastric emptying are highly repeatable. Breastmilk of higher casein, whey and lactose concentrations empties faster, while fortified milk and pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) empty more slowly than unfortified mother’s own milk (MOM). Intragastric curding of MOM and PDHM are similar. Objective measures of gastric emptying may improve assessment of the preterm gastrointestinal response.

 Why my research is important

My research provides  sensitive and clinically accessible tool that can potentially be used to establish normal patterns of gastric emptying, evaluate feeding tolerance of milk feeds with different fortification or pasteurization methods, identify precursors to clinical signs of disease, and to monitor gastrointestinal complications in the preterm population.