Donor Breastmilk Depot Opens in Pioneer Valley
Life-Saving for Preterm Infants
If you find that you have more than enough breastmilk, milk donation may be a way for you to protect the health of premature infants… and for Valley families, it just got more convenient to donate!
The Pioneer Valley Breastfeeding Coalition has announced the opening of a new donor breastmilk depot, housed at Northampton Area Pediatrics in Northampton, MA. This depot will store and send milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
Donor milk banking, which began in the U.S. in 1911, is a way of providing human milk to premature and very sick infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Donor milk is provided as a supplement – not a replacement – for preterm babies whose mothers aren’t able to provide enough milk…
Donor milk can be life-saving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which affects one in ten of the smallest preterm infants, and is fatal in one of seven cases. Donor breastmilk has been found to lower the risk of this condition by 79%. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.
Donor milk is rapidly becoming the standard supplement to mothers’ milk for preterm infants in NICUs. Fifteen New England hospitals, including eight in Massachusetts, have made donor milk the standard care for their youngest and smallest patients. Baystate Medical Center has plans to make donor milk the standard of care in early 2014.
Milk banks accept donations of milk from approved mothers who have more milk than their babies need. They rigorously screen milk donors, and then screen, pasteurize and dispense donor milk. Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (formerly Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England) has been dispensing to over 30 hospitals and to families throughout the east coast since 2011.
Milk depots are places where approved milk bank donors can conveniently drop off their breastmilk for shipment to the milk bank. The depot at Northampton Area Pediatrics is the second to open in Massachusetts, and serves Western Massachusetts donors. You can read more about the depot and milk donation in this Daily Hampshire Gazette article.
Mothers who wish to donate milk can contact the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (firstname.lastname@example.org; 617-527-6263; www.milkbankne.org) to begin donor screening. Approved donors wishing to use the Northampton depot may contact Tanya Lieberman (email@example.com; 413-238-1909).
-Submitted by Tanya Lieberman