Pittsburgh Milk Bank Pushes for Regulation by the State

By Sostek, Anya | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), October 17, 2018 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Milk Bank Pushes for Regulation by the State


Sostek, Anya, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


In January 2016, what's now known as the Mid-Atlantic Mothers' Milk Bank delivered its first ounces of breast milk to babies at Pittsburgh hospitals. With milk delivery now underway in dozens of hospitals in multiple states, the milk bank has another goal: state regulation.

A bill to do just that passed the state House health committee last month. The Keystone Mother's Milk Bank Act would require that milk banks be licensed according to national accrediting standards and would set up licensing fees and prohibited practices.

"Its purpose is to create regulations to make sure that human donor milk banks are regulated in a fashion that you can trust what you're getting from them," said Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion, one of the lead sponsors of the bill. The other lead sponsor is Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Philadelphia.

Four other states - California, Maryland, New York and New Jersey - currently regulate milk banks, said Denise O'Connor, director of Mid-Atlantic Mothers' Milk Bank, which is based in the Strip District. It is Pennsylvania's only free-standing milk bank.

Although breast milk is considered beneficial for all babies, it is recommended as the "standard of care" for many babies in neonatal intensive care units, particularly for its effectiveness in preventing a dangerous stomach infection called necrotizing enterocolitis. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that one case of NEC requiring surgery or resulting in death could be prevented for every eight infants receiving breast milk instead of formula. The milk is also increasingly used for full-term babies, as well as outpatient babies and toddlers with complicated medical needs, said Ms. O'Connor, noting that breast milk has been used in hospital cardiac units, as well as for children recovering from bowel surgeries and transplants.

Because of the outpatient demand, the milk bank had its biggest month ever in August, distributing 23,000 ounces, said Ms. …

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