Babies benefit from steady growth of breast milk donors as Texas Children's Hospital marks second year of donor milk bank

HOUSTON - (Aug. 26, 2013) - The continued growth of nursing moms donating breast milk to its human milk bank enables Texas Children's Hospital to ensure a steady supply of donor milk for critically-ill infants. The steady growth has also enabled the hospital to implement a program offering donor milk to healthy newborns delivered at the hospital's Pavilion for Women in support of breastfeeding moms who need supplementation during the important early days of the baby's life. Watch a video to learn more about the hospital's donor milk program.

Through the generous support of more than 174 qualified donors in the Houston area, Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank received a total of 54,564 ounces during the past year, for a total of 92,711 ounces donated since the program launched. To date, the largest donation of excess breast milk from one woman is 5,772 ounces, enough milk to feed 29 premature babies in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).The ample supply of donor breast milk enabled the hospital to feed more than 1000 critically-ill newborns and more than 700 infants delivered at the Pavilion for Women during the last year.

"Nursing mothers who've taken the time to donate are to be commended for the positive impact they are making in a newborn's life," said Nancy Hurst, Ph.D., RN, director of Women's Support Services and the Mothers' Milk Bank at Texas Children's and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). "These moms truly understand what a special gift human breast milk is to other moms and their babies." Hurst added that while other communities are reporting donor milk shortages, Texas Children's has been fortunate with the number of moms that have generously come forward to help.

Since 2009 Texas Children's follows a protocol of feeding 100 percent breast milk to NICU babies weighing less than 3.3 pounds. Studies have proven that premature infants who are exclusively fed human breast milk have lower incidences of developing an often fatal intestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and other complications such as gastrointestinal disturbances. The hospital also promotes the benefits of breastfeeding to all new mothers and provides support through certified lactation consultants and breastfeeding peer counselors.

"Since implementation of our feeding protocol, the NEC rates in our NICU have decreased from the national average of 8 to 10 percent to just 2 to 4 percent," said Dr. Stephen E. Welty, chief of neonatology at Texas Children's and professor of pediatrics-neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics at BCM. "Medical science has also proven that there are so many other health benefits of human breast milk for newborns."

Texas Children's contracts with Prolacta Bioscience, a state-of-the-art human milk lab, to ensure the highest quality control in the testing and pasteurization of the milk for infant feeding. Prolacta also provides Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank with Prolacta Plus, the only human milk fortifier made from 100 percent human breast milk, which is fed to critically-ill preterm infants because it has the added protein and minerals they need.

Texas Children's encourages Houston-area mothers to consider donating their excess breast milk to Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank. By providing their extra breast milk, these donors ensure that the hospital's smallest and most critically-ill patients receive an exclusive human milk diet and mothers who are not able to produce enough milk of their own receive supplementation for their hospitalized newborns. Frozen breast milk can be donated up to 12 months after it has been expressed. To donate, mothers can visit texaschildrens.org/milk to complete the online registration and an assessment questionnaire, or call 832-824-MILK for more information.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.