Nutrition Lab

The Nutrition Lab at CHOC is responsible for preparing breast milk and specialized formulas for our patients with unique feeding needs. This process is done in a sanitary environment and uses a special barcoding inventory system to ensure accuracy. The Nutrition Lab houses a breast milk freezer and a commercial dishwasher, and is staffed with registered dietetic technicians. CHOC also operates a satellite Nutrition Lab in the CHOC NICU at St. Joseph Hospital.

Barcoding breast milk in the Nutrition Lab

The Nutrition Lab is used for:

  • Storing, fortifying and tracking breast milk for babies
  • Preparing formula for babies
  • Preparing formula for children with feeding tubes.

For babies staying with us in the hospital, we work closely with moms to pump breast milk and store it at the hospital for regular feedings. Our registered dietetic technicians (DTRs) manage breast milk feeding orders and may fortify breast milk according to a doctor’s order. Barcodes are scanned during receiving, preparation and feeding to ensure a correct match for every feeding, and to prevent the use of expired breast milk.

The Nutrition Lab is also responsible for managing formula orders. This includes the preparation of specialized formulas and distribution of tube-feeding formulas to patients throughout the hospital in a timely manner. Our DTRs calculate specialized infant formula recipes based on formula orders, under the supervision of registered dietitians (RDs).

CHOC Leads the Way to Safer Breast Milk Handling with New Tracking Process

Breast milk bottle-feeding baby

CHOC has gained national and statewide recognition for its breast milk handling process, which has proven to be safer for patients and more efficient for physicians and staff. CHOC leaders have been asked to present on the topic more than 25 times across the country, including presentations at the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) annual meeting in 2014, the NICU Leadership Forum in 2014 and 2015, and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual meeting 2015. CHOC has also published articles on the topic in publications including the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Breastfeeding Medicine.

What is a registered dietetic technician?

CHOC has a team of registered dietetic technicians (DTRs) who expertly handle all breast milk and formula preparation at the Nutrition Lab. DTRs have completed a minimum of an associate degree and have completed a minimum of 450 supervised practice hours through a dietetic technician program or completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in dietetics (meeting the requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). They also have successfully completed the registration examination for dietetic technicians and must continue to complete at least 50 continuing education credits every five years.