Women who give birth at Sinai, St. Agnes, or Johns Hopkins and can’t breastfeed — or could use some extra fortification — and who formerly would have relied on formula, are more likely than ever to have access to a pasteurized version of the real thing.
In 2008, St. Agnes opened a milk bank and Johns Hopkins began offering donor milk as part of a three-year study. In 2010, as few as nine babies were fed with donated milk at Maryland hospitals. Last year, Sinai opened its own milk bank and Johns Hopkins got a permanent license, so expect those numbers to rise and rise.
If parents can get over their squeamishness at using donated breast milk, advocates claim these programs stand to not only improve the health, but actually save the lives of “dozens” of babies a year, particularly preemies at risk for necrotizing intestinal disorder, a deadly disease that develops in 10 percent of infants weighing less than three pounds.
And as strange as it may be for many of us, it’s a lot less “icky” than many other things that regularly go on in the hospital.
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