The Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England
A mothers’ milk bank collects, processes, tests and distributes donated human milk to babies in need, particularly premature infants whose mothers are unable to provide for them due to health or other reasons. While there are 11 active milk banks in the US and Canada, currently, this important health service is not available in New England. The Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England (MMBNE) is a recently established non-profit health service in the Boston area dedicated to this vital aspect of care for premature newborns. A physician Medical Advisory Board supervises the implementation of national standards for collection, screening, processing and dispensing.
Some mothers, particularly those who have premature, traumatic and/or multiple births, have difficulty providing fully for their infants. Banked human milk is widely recognized as the best alternative to mothers' milk in these situations. Use of commercial formula increases the incidence of medical complications such as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), (Hylander et al, 2001) a significant cause of blindness affecting very low birth weight babies. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a disease that destroys a portion of the intestines. NEC is 10-17% more likely if a premature infant is fed formula. About 30% of babies with NEC do not survive. Treatment can require surgical removal of part of the intestine and can lead to lifelong gastrointestinal problems, largely preventable by feeding babies human milk (McGuire and Anthony, 2003). By preventing medical complications, banked milk also reduces the length and cost of hospital stays for premature infants (Wight, 2001).
The Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England is a non-profit community milk bank whose mission is to provide donor human milk to newborns in need by:
For more information and to learn about the current status of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England, visit our website: www.milkbankne.org.
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