Thursday, August 9, 2012

Action Step 12: Make Donor Milk Available


From the Human Milk Banking Association of North America
August is National Breastfeeding Month. The United States Breastfeeding Committee has begun a campaign of 20 steps in 20 days to support breastfeeding. These steps are based on the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. We'll be taking a close look at some of these steps over the next few weeks! The information below comes from page 49 of the above document.

Action 12. Identify and address obstacles to greater
availability of safe banked donor milk for fragile infants. 

Growing evidence supports the role of donated human milk in assisting infants with special needs, such as infants in newborn intensive care units who are unable to receive their own mothers’ milk, to achieve the best possible health outcome. In these situations, use of banked donor milk may protect the infant from the risks that might result from not breastfeeding. Unfortunately, demand for donor milk outpaces supply because of logistical challenges related to transportation of donated milk, the lack of clarity in oversight, and the high cost of providing banked human milk. A national strategy is needed to efficiently and effectively address the issues involved in providing banked donor milk to vulnerable infant populations.

Implementation Strategies 


Conduct a systematic review of the current evidence on the safety and efficacy of donor human milk. A systematic review will provide a common understanding of the health outcomes resulting from the use of this milk by analyzing the results of all of the available published research. Additionally, a systematic review will help identify any areas where the evidence is not conclusive and where more research is needed.

Establish evidence-based clinical guidelines for the use of banked donor milk. Necessary components of the guidelines include discussion of the use of donor human milk for a variety of infants, such as those who have a low or very low birth weight, are premature, or have particular medical needs; issues related to collection of and payment for donor milk; and the complex biomedical ethics of prioritizing the distribution of banked donor milk.

Convene a study on federal regulation and support of donor milk banks. Such a study could examine possible models for regulating and funding milk banks. In addition, it should consider
policy options to address concerns about biomedical ethics related to compensation for donating milk and the for-profit sale of banked donor milk. It also could examine models for payment, including WIC or health insurance program benefits that cover the use of banked donor milk. It is important also to consider how human milk banks might be a resource in planning responses to national emergencies.

Getting Involved

At A Nurturing Moment we are passionate about seeing a human milk bank in Alabama. Melissa did her Master's Thesis on Human Milk Banking. Currently the closest milk bank is in Texas

However, a bank is being developed in Jackson, MS. They are in the process of raising funds to get started. On October 4 they are having a very special fund-raiser -- A special one-night screening of Donor Milk: The Documentary at the Grandview Cinema in Madison, MS. Following the film there will be a question and answer panel with Amy Vickers - executive director of the North Texas Milk Bank, a couple whose baby received donor milk, mothers who have donated, Jarred King - one of the film's producers and Linda Pittman - executive director of the Mother's Milk Bank of Mississippi. 

One key to having a milk bank in a community is the demand for donor milk by the neonatologists. In the Jackson, Mississippi area, the neonatologists regularly prescribe donor milk for those preemies who desperately need it. Parents have the right to demand that their baby receive donor breastmilk if mom isn't making enough milk for baby.  In the future every state should have at least one milk bank, and many states will have more than one (Texas already has two.) We look forward to the day when Alabama has it's very own Human Milk Bank!

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