Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nonprofit Opens Funding Effort for a Regional Breast Milk Bank

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Nonprofit Opens Funding Effort for a Regional Breast Milk Bank

Article excerpt

Do you want to build a milk bank?

A local nonprofit working to build the first breast milk bank in Pennsylvania has launched a crowd-funding campaign on the website Indiegogo, asking for the public's help to raise $50,000 for the Three Rivers Mothers' Milk Bank to pay for equipment such as pasteurizers, commercial-grade freezers and a bar-coding system.

The milk would go to "the sickest of the sick" babies in area neonatal intensive care units, said founder and board president Denise O'Connor. Board members and advisors for the new bank include representatives from all four NICUs within Pittsburgh city limits. NICUs from Ohio, West Virginia and central Pennsylvania also have expressed interest in receiving milk. If funding goes well, the bank hopes to open in spring 2015, said Ms. O'Connor, a longtime lactation consultant.

While breast milk is considered beneficial for all babies, it is potentially lifesaving for preterm infants, said Stephanie Ardell, neonatologist and medical director of the NICU at UPMC Mercy. "They leave the NICU more healthy, and they have a better chance of surviving their NICU stay," she said.

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended donated breast milk as the "standard of care" for babies that weigh less than 3.4 pounds when milk from their own mothers is not available. None of the four NICUs in Pittsburgh hospitals provide donor milk to preterm infants.

Studies have shown that babies who receive human milk instead of formula have decreased rates of infection, shorter NICU stays and fewer incidences of necrotizing enterocolitis, a dangerous stomach infection that primarily affects low-weight premature babies. Dr. Ardell cited a study that found that 20 percent of preterm infants fed with formula developed necrotizing enterocolitis, compared with 3 percent of babies fed with donated breast milk.

Milk banks fund themselves by charging hospitals per ounce of milk. …

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