Friday, February 27, 2009

Milk Banks in North America

My Master's degree is in part in the field of Immunology, so when the decision whether to breastfeed or bottle feed my daughter's was mine, it was an easy choice to breast feed. I knew then of the benefits that breast feeding would have on their health and in improving their immune system.

When my youngest was in the NICU, I quickly understood the importance of breast milk for a NICU newborn and made the decision to start pumping breast milk while she was in the NICU, at a time, when I wasn't even sure if she would survive the NICU.

Since our day's in the NICU, I have gone on to teach Nutrition and one of the lectures focuses on the process of lactation (breast feeding) and the many benefits of breast milk.

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America
I'd looked into donating to a Milk Bank in 2000 as my older daughter grew older and I was working some and still pumping. The system didn't seem to be in place to make this an easy option. It is good to know that things have changed in nine years, but there is still only one Milk Bank on the West Coast (Mother's Milk Bank in San Jose). There is another one in Canada, the BC Women's Milk Bank.

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) is a multidisciplinary group of health care providers that promotes, protects, and supports donor milk banking.

The 11 HMBANA member milk banks serve many infants who need milk because of medical conditions such as formula intolerance or feeding issues related to prematurity.

Benefits of Human Breast Milk
The HMBANA website shares some of the many benefits of breast milk in their position paper on the topic. Here is an excerpt:
Human milk is the standard food for infants and young children including premature and sick newborns with rare exceptions. (1,2) Human milk provides optimal nutrition, promotes normal growth and development, and reduces the risk of illness and disease. (3) The unique composition of human milk includes nutrients, enzymes, growth factors, hormones, and immunological and anti- inflammatory properties that have not been duplicated. (4) Exclusive breastfeeding for six months is recommended with introduction of complementary nutritionally adequate foods at about this time. Optimally breast milk remains in the diet for two years and beyond. (1) In situations where mothers' own milk is not available, provision of pasteurized, screened donor milk is the next best option particularly for ill, or high- risk infants. (5)
Read More of "The Value of Human Milk" at the HMBANA's website's Position Papers on Donor Milk Banking.

Sources Referenced:
1. WHO resolution 54.2, May 18, 2001.
2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 1997; 100: 1035-1038.
3. Picciano, M. F. (2001). Nutrient composition of human milk. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 48. 1, 53-67.
4. Hamosh, M. (2001). Bioactive factors in human milk. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 48. 1, 69-86.
5. WHO/UNICEF Joint statement: meeting on infant and young child feedings. (1980). J Nur Midwife, 25, 31.

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