Benefits of breast milk for premature babies
Lauren Line, St. Cloud’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, explains some of the benefits of giving breast milk to preemies.
Clairissa Baker, [email protected]
The North East is experiencing a severe shortage of breastmilk for infants in hospitals and those who have just returned home and Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast is asking breastfeeding people who can spare milk to become donors.
Since March 2021, the demand for milk from human donors has increased by 15% and will soon exceed the available supply, according to the regional milk bank.
“Milk banks, like blood banks, face an urgent need for donors. Most blood donors can donate over many years, but there is only a short window in which a breastfeeding person can donate,” said Deborah Youngblood, Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, in a press release. “If you have milk in your freezer, you could save a baby’s life right now.”
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast is based in Massachusetts and provides donor milk to 100 hospitals and outpatients in the region, including Vermont. The Vermont Donor Milk Center, the state’s first milk bank that opened in January 2020, is affiliated with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, receiving milk for Vermont families from the regional center.
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Once a potential milk donor has gone through a 15-minute screening, questionnaire and blood test and is finally approved, they can bring their donations to the Essex-based Vermont Center, who will send them for be pasteurized and distributed to infants in need.
Why breast milk instead of formula?
Science has shown that preterm and low birth weight infants, in particular, do better with breast milk rather than formula. Human milk has been linked to a 79% reduction in the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, an inflammation of the intestines affecting premature babies, according to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
“Pasteurized donor milk is not just food for premature babies; it’s medicine,” said Robert Insoft, medical director of the regional milk bank, in a new statement. “With more hospitals offering donor milk as a standard of care, we need to ensure sufficient supplies to that no baby who needs donor milk goes without. this.”
Those who want to help and can save milk can learn more and start screening at https://milkbankne.org/. Contact by email at [email protected] or call 617-527-6263 x3.
Contact reporter April Barton at [email protected] or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.