LINCOLN – Logan County Department of Public Health (LCDPH) recently became the home of Lincoln’s first human milk depot and celebrated the landmark event with an open house.
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Pasteurized donor human milk is an important nutritional therapy for many at-risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies, as it provides numerous benefits in the absence of the mother’s milk, including infection-fighting factors, active growth and development hormones, improved digestion and ideal nutrition. While LCDPH supports breastfeeding whenever possible, donor milk can be used when the mother has a low milk supply, is ill or on certain medications, or in cases of adoption or surrogacy.
The milk depot at LCDPH collects human milk donations from healthy, lactating women who are approved donors through Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. The donations are then sent to the milk bank, where they are pasteurized to eliminate any viruses and bacteria. After pasteurization, the milk is tested once again for safety and distributed to hospitals.
According to Nicole Robbins, Education and Outreach Specialist for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, the price charged to hospitals for the purchase of the milk takes into account the 2-3 week donor screening process, donor blood testing, two rounds of bacterial testing, pasteurization, the maintenance of equipment, and bottles. The non-profit milk banking system ensures that no-one profits from the sale or distribution of human milk.
“For our outpatients,” Robbins said, “we have our charity care program. We want to make donor milk as accessible as possible since we understand it is expensive.”
“Rigorous safety protocols ensure that pasteurized donor human milk is safe when it’s provided from a milk bank that adheres to guidelines from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America,” said Summer Kelly, Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. “Potential donors are blood tested and thoroughly screened for communicable diseases, activities that increase the risk of blood borne diseases, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, and medications.”
“Milk collected from LCDPH’s milk depot will help support the complex nutritional needs of sick and premature babies in Illinois and Wisconsin,” Kelly said.
Which has its advantages as well. Antibodies unique to this region of the country will be passed along to babies from this region – one of the protective characteristics breastfeeding mothers pass along to their infants.
The Milk Depot’s first donor, Sara Notto, whose daughter is 11 months old, donated 340 ounces. “I had a pretty good supply built up. My daughter is 11 months old, so I had some initially from when she was very young and so I just realized that it was coming close to the point where I could not use it anymore and I wanted to be able to donate it to little ones in need.”
For more information, please contact Kara Davis or the WIC department with the Logan County Department of Public Health at 217-735-2317. The department hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm. For more information regarding LCDPH services, you can log onto their website at WWW.LCDPH.ORG.