A premature infant born in 2014 has a better chance to survive and thrive than anytime in history. As medicine advances, we have access to better technology, closer monitoring for earlier intervention and treatment with targeted drugs with fewer side effects.
But no medical advancement protects a vulnerable preemie as well as breast milk. Prematurity can place a baby at risk for a dangerous condition known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). One of the most effective strategies for lowering the risk of NEC is to feed human milk.
According to neonatologists at the University of Iowa, it is important to provide small amounts of human milk starting as soon as possible, while the infant is being primarily fed intravenously, to prepare the intestines to digest normally. The researchers recommended human milk from a milk bank or donor can be used if mother’s milk is unavailable.
Donated breast milk is a crucial part of the plan of care for the smallest and most frail babies. But there is a constant shortage, there has never been enough donated milk to meet the demand. Donating breast milk is something many of us lactating moms can do to make a positive impact in the lives of families with a premature baby.
To find out more about your options for donating breast milk in your area, check out the Human Milk Bank of North America website at https://www.hmbana.org/