Medical Minute: OhioHealth Mothers' Milk Bank
In 2019, the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank distributed over 376,000 ounces of milk to babies in need throughout the United States and Canada – that’s about 3,000 gallons! Just one ounce can feed a premature infant for three days. And it’s anticipated that the need for milk will only increase this year. Donors of human milk are essential to the milk bank.
“We look at donor milk for premature infants like blood to a trauma patient,” said Chris Smith, outreach coordinator for the milk bank. “It’s lifesaving. It’s not just a ‘nice thing to have.’ It’s vital for those babies. It reduces their risk of infections, and potential death. So it’s very important.”
The milk bank, which is located in the OhioHealth Eastside Health Center, relies on donations from healthy, lactating women who generously provide milk to help other babies.
To become a human milk donor, mothers must take part in a screening process to ensure the quality and safety of the milk. This process includes a phone screening to verify eligibility, completion of a medical and lifestyle history review, a signed medical release from the donor and physician and consent to receive a blood test to screen for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis. The donated milk is pasteurized, frozen and distributed by physician prescription. Bloodwork and the shipping of milk are covered by the milk bank at no cost to the donor.
Benefits of Breast Milk
Infants benefit greatly from human milk, especially those who are premature, ill, or have life-threatening conditions. Human milk is the ultimate source of nutrients and immune protection for infants. Babies benefit from the active growth hormones, developmental enzymes, infection fighting and immunological factors found in human milk.
Research shows that human milk helps pre-term infants:
- Reach full feeds sooner and need fewer IVs
- Mature their intestines faster
- Spend fewer days in the hospital
- Reduce risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (a potentially fatal bowel infection)
- Reduce risk of sepsis (blood infection) and fewer infections
- Experience long-term IQ advantages over formula-fed infants
- Be healthier as older children and adults
More information about the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank, including a video, may be found here.
Interested donors should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614) 566.0630