The World Health Organization states that in cases where mother’s own milk is not available, donated human mother’s milk is the next best option. The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana is the 15th nonprofit human milk bank to open under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). We collect milk from donors within our service area, pasteurizing the milk, and dispensing it to hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) that care for premature and sick infants and to outpatient recipients in need of human donor breast milk.
Outpatient recipients of donor milk include infants and children who:
- Have been diagnosed with “Failure to Thrive”
- Are not tolerating formula
- Have a life-threatening illness
- Have a failing immune system
- Are children of a multiple birth whose mother has a limited supply of milk
- Are adopted
- Are unable to be breastfed by their own mothers due to illness or medication
- Are born to mothers who cannot provide them with an adequate supply of breast milk but who wish to avoid supplementation with formula
Many of us are familiar with the expression “breast is best” — and for good reason. It’s because of the myriad benefits of breast milk that are simply impossible to reproduce in formula.
The benefits of breast milk extend way beyond basic nutrition which gives it “liquid gold” status. Breast milk provides babies with a variety of antibodies to boost their immune system, develop their brain, and resist illness.
Human milk is especially critical for premature and sick infants because it provides easy digestibility, immunological components, and it protects them from devastating intestinal infections like Necrotizing Entericolitis (NEC).
Premature infants are among the worlds’ most vulnerable populations. Neonates have under-developed and immature biological systems that often lead to long term disabilities. Proper nutrition can greatly impact the infant’s chance of survival and decrease severity of impairment. Studies show that extremely low birth weight preterm infants who received breast milk shortly after birth had higher mental development scores at 18 months when compared with preterm infants not given breast milk.
Low birth weight babies who are fed human milk in comparison to formula fed babies have:
- Improved cognitive function by 5 points
- Higher IQ scores (8 points) measured at 3 and 8 years
- Increased cognitive benefits with duration
Studies have also shown that breast milk can protect against certain childhood cancers, Type I and Type II diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease and a child’s risk of becoming overweight or obese as a teen or adult.