Ochsner Baptist has opened the first human milk bank in the state to help premature babies get more nutrients.
The medical center announced the opening of Mothers' Milk Bank of Louisiana this week.
The Milk Bank accepts donated human milk following a detailed screening process of a lactating woman. The milk is then given to infants who are born prematurely and are unable to receive enough milk from their birth mother due to maternal conditions.
Infants born prematurely (three or more weeks before their due date) frequently require a hospital stay to continue to grow, according to Ochsner.
Mothers' milk is exceptionally beneficial for these preterm infants, as it contains numerous bioactive immune components, essential proteins and fats which are not present in commercially made formula.
Often mothers of preterm infants or multiples have difficulty providing enough milk for their babies. Donor milk provides life-saving nutrients to vulnerable newborns and reduces the rate of necrotizing enterocolitis, a deadly intestinal infection that afflicts low birth weight infants.
Donated milk is pasteurized then cultured so that it is safe to offer to babies with specific medical needs.
"The Mothers' Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist was but a dream that with the help of many has become a reality. If we wish to impact and decrease infant mortality in our state, then the ability to provide human milk for all babies in need is crucial," said Harley Ginsberg, MD, Section Head of Neonatology and Medical Director of Neonatal Intensive Care at Ochsner Baptist. "Research has shown that our most vulnerable patients, critically ill newborns, benefit exponentially from mothers' milk. The generous gift of donor milk has the ability to improve the outcome of these babies and shorten their hospitalization."
The Mothers' Milk Bank of Louisiana is now a fully operational, not-for-profit human milk bank, meaning shipments no longer have to be sent to Austin for processing and distribution. The Milk Bank screens potential donors; receives, processes and pasteurizes donated milk; then distributes to hospitals for babies in need.
Currently, the Mothers' Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist distributes the milk to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across the state with plans to expand the supply to critically ill, older infants across Louisiana.