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March 30, 2020
The importance of breast milk for infants has been well documented and breastfeeding is considered the gold standard for essential nutrients and protective agents. [i] Check out our last blog for all the amazing “Benefits of Breastfeeding”. But what happens when a mother and baby are unable to breastfeed? There can be several reasons for this, including premature birth (which may be secondary to the shortened period of the mother’s changes in her mammary glands), the stress associated with premature birth, or other causes. [ii] Human Milk Banks are a wonderful option for babies unable to breastfeed, especially those in critical care in the NICU. Essentially, they can provide important microorganisms when breastfeeding is not an option. [iii]
Human Milk Banks originated in the early 1900s; however, they were subject to scrutiny over the years. They became less popular with the introduction of infant formula, and then many of them shut down after the HIV crisis during the 1980s. Mothers were originally offered money for breast milk, which unfortunately led to a desire to provide as much as possible, thus lowering their own babies intake or contaminating with cow’s milk to provide higher quantities. [iv] Now we know breast milk is preferred over formula when possible for many reasons—including beneficial bioactive components that are not found in formula,and have a positive influence on growth factors and hormones. Also, infant formula can change the gut microbes causing undesired long-term effects. [v]
Benefits of Human Milk
Today, donors do not receive compensation for breast milk and donors are required to go through a screening process to rule out infectious diseases potentially being passed on while also ensuring the donor is living a healthy lifestyle. Once the HMB receives the milk, it is stored at -20˚C and then thawed for pasteurization. Although some of the antimicrobial properties are reduced, the donor milk still contains protective mechanisms that can help in the following ways:
Tidbit for your Tiny One
Once the human milk has been pasteurized, it can only be stored at -20˚C for up to one year, hence the need for constant recruitment of donors to these milk banks. To ensure infants that have the greatest need receive it, the breast milk is available by prescription only. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Following is a list of the Human Milk Banks in Canada. Additional donor centres are set up throughout Canada and information on the donor sites closest to your area can be found on the websites below [viii]:
BC Women’s Provincial Milk BankVancouver, BC
Calgary Mothers’ Milk BankCalgary, AB
Roger Hixon Ontario Human Milk BankToronto, ON
(416) 586-4800 x email@example.com
Public Mothers’ Milk BankMontreal, QC
Thanks for your time, and remember…. Don’t hog the blog! Please share with friends today.
Have a bloomin’ day!Sarah & Karen
[i] Panczuk J, Unger S, O'Connor D, Lee SK. (2014) Human donor milk for the vulnerable infant: a Canadian perspective. Int Breastfeed Journal Mar 25 9:4, 1-12.
[ii] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2010). Donor breast milk banks: the operation of donor milk bank services. NICE Clinical Guideline 93, 1-132.
[iii] Kundisova, L., Bocci, G., Golfera, M., Alaimo, L., Nante, N. (2019). A systematic review of literature regarding the characteristics and motivations of breastmilk donors. Breastfeeding Review; 27 (3), 29-42.
[iv] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2010). Donor breast milk banks: the operation of donor milk bank services. NICE Clinical Guideline 93, 1-132.
[v] https://abcnews.go.com/Health/infant-formula-change-gut-bacteria-contribute-childhood-obesity/story?id=55632397 & http://breastfeedingalberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/HumanMilkAdvantages.pdf
[vi] Kundisova, L., Bocci, G., Golfera, M., Alaimo, L., Nante, N. (2019). A systematic review of literature regarding the characteristics and motivations of breastmilk donors. Breastfeeding Review; 27 (3), 29-42.
[viii] https://www.cadth.ca/donor-human-milk-banks ©2020 Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
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