Texas Children's Hospital celebrates first year of donor breast milk bank

HOUSTON - (Aug. 15, 2012)- Texas Children's Hospital is celebrating the one year anniversary of their donor breast milk bank which helps to provide for the nutritional needs of infants in the Newborn Center, the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Because of the proven health benefits of breast milk for infants, the hospital has followed a feeding protocol of providing 100 percent breast milk to its NICU babies weighing less than 3.3 pounds since January 2009. Due to an increase in the demand for donor breast milk, and the inability of some moms to produce enough to meet their NICU infants' needs, nursing mothers donate their excess breast milk to Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank. These milk donations ensure an ample supply is available for the nearly 2,500 critically-ill babies treated at Texas Children's Newborn Center and the hospital's new Pavilion for Women each year. Learn more about Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank.

"Since launching our donor milk bank last year, we have received an overwhelming amount of support, and to date more than 38,130 ounces of breast milk have been donated by generous women in our community which have helped more than 350 of our tiniest and most critically-ill babies thrive," said Nancy Hurst, Ph.D., RN, director of Women's Support Services and the Mothers' Milk Bank at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). "We are grateful to all of the women who have given thus far and we continue to see a high demand for donor milk, so we encourage nursing mothers with an ample supply to consider giving a very special gift that will touch many lives."

Studies have shown 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. Texas Children's reports that since their 100 percent breast milk feeding protocol was implemented in 2009, NEC rates in the NICU have decreased from the national average of 10 to 12 percent to just 2 percent.

"Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank allows us to ensure the safe growth of our most fragile infants by providing them with the best nutrition available which is a crucial part of a patient's outcome," said Dr. Stephen Welty, chief of neonatology at Texas Children's Hospital and head of the section of neonatology in the department of pediatrics at BCM.

Since the opening of Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank, 73 qualified donors have donated their excess breast milk, with the largest donation of almost 4,000 ounces coming from one woman, enough milk to feed 20 babies during their NICU hospital stay. However, the majority of women donate the minimum amount of 150 ounces, which goes a long way in keeping up with the increased demand.

Reasons mothers give for donating their milk vary. Some moms donate their extra milk to help babies in need because they had a preterm baby or know someone who has. Others choose to donate because they know they are directly supporting Texas Children's and the babies in the hospital's care and some of the donors are employees of BCM and Texas Children's. The need for more donors continues to grow and mothers who would like to help Texas Children's tiniest patients can visit www.texaschildrens.org/milk to complete an online registration form and assessment questionnaire. After the application is reviewed, potential milk donors will then be contacted to complete a free blood test screening that can be done at one of more than 25 conveniently located Houston-area medical labs. Frozen breast milk can be donated up to 12 months after it has been expressed.

"The donation is an easy process and once you're approved you literally never have to leave your house - you can pump right from your own home, freeze the milk in your own freezer and have FedEx pick up your package when you've collected enough milk to donate to the babies who need it most," said Allison Rutledge, a mom of two who donated her excess breast milk to Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank.

To ensure the highest quality control in the testing and pasteurization of the donor milk for infant feeding, Texas Children's contracts with Prolacta Bioscience. Prolacta operates a large, pharmaceutical grade facility that will ensure enough capacity to meet Texas Children's needs. Moms can learn more about Prolacta by visiting their website: www.prolacta.com.

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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.