Organization makes it easier for mom's to donate and receive breastmilk. Photo via sdminor81 Flickr Commons.
Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation that premature infants should be fed with either a mother’s or a donor’s breast milk. Human milk is generally the most preferable form of nutrition for pre-term and medically fragile babies. Not all mothers are able to produce enough milk to nourish their babies, and there is a need for donated milk that is not always available.
Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, is the first to provide a breast milk donation program in the Puget Sound region. The nonprofit Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) will process, test and pasteurize donated milk.
The Herald reported that according to Joanne Burke, the manager of Everett hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, of the 500 infants treated in their NICU each year at least a third could use donated mother’s milk.
The US Department of Health and Human Services underscores the value of breast milk, calling it “liquid gold” and pointing out that breast milk is rich in nutrients and antibodies that help to protect babies from disease and illnesses. This protection is unique, as formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk. They also state that for most babies, especially premature babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
Lactating mothers don’t need to live in Washington, or even one of the 12 HMBANA member milk banks in North America to help out.
The HMBANA website states that interested mothers should contact the bank closest to them and inquire about having their milk shipped to the bank. All costs of screening and shipping are covered by the receiving bank. Mothers then undergo a screening process that begins with a short interview over the telephone. Donors should be in good general health and able to donate at least 100 ounces of milk.
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