The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Human milk banks for human babies
One of the many hard lessons learned from the infant formula shortage crisis of 2022 is that we need more diverse options for safely feeding our babies. There is no one right option for every parent or baby. We need support for breastfeeding when families can and choose that option, stable and safely regulated formula, and access to screened and pasteurized human donor milk from regulated nonprofit milk banks for babies who require donor milk to grow and thrive.
Breastmilk has well documented benefits for all babies; however, premature and medically fragile babies require human milk to protect their health. When these high-risk babies receive their own mother’s or a donor human milk, instead of formula, their risk of severe and/or potentially fatal debilitating medical conditions decreases by more than 75 percent. Pasteurized human donor milk saves newborn lives.
Our country engaged in appropriate reactive outrage during the formula shortage when families suffered and babies did not all get what they need to be healthy and well. As we build ways to best feed our babies, let us be proactive with regards to nonprofit donor milk banks. We need a national conversation that makes milk donation as common as blood donation. Nonprofit milk banks need support from local and state funding streams to help raise awareness about milk donation and to support human milk bank growth to keep up with the demand from hospitals and families.
Why build nonprofit rather than for-profit milk banks? Because it is critically important that profit motives play no part in donor milk as a supplement to mother’s own milk to promote newborn health. Safe and effective newborn feeding is a mission we must get behind, not a financial bottom line. Let us be sure that our babies get the safe nutrition they need and deserve from sources committed to their well-being. Learn more about nonprofit milk banks today.
Dr. Sarah N. Taylor, Director, Neonatal Clinical Research, Yale University School of Medicine Deborah Youngblood, executive director, Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast