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Donor Breast Milk Introduced at Springfield Hospital

Image Courtesy of CoxHealth
Image Courtesy of CoxHealth

CoxHealth has become the first local hospital to feed premature babies with donor breast milk. It contains proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates essential for nourishment that cannot be added in formula. KSMU’s Shannon Bowers has the story.

Expecting mothers are told by neonatal nurses that it is healthier for babies to receive breast milk because it is a natural and beneficial source of nutrition. However, not all new moms are able to breastfeed.

Particularly with premature babies, CoxHealth has started to use pasteurized donor breast milk because it helps fight infections. According to Dr. Joesph Eccher, it is the antibodies, living cells, enzymes, and hormones that make breast milk ideal for premature babies.

“They basically allow the intestine to be colonized with friendly bacteria instead of bacteria likely to cause illness so the effort has been made for some time to use mother’s milk. But in our population of premature babies their moms are sick,” Echer.

When a mom is sick she may have difficulty with milk production or perhaps is on medications that interfere with her ability to produce and give milk.

CoxHealth gets the donor milk from the Saint Luke’s Heart of Americas Mother Milk Bank in Kansas City. To insure the milk’s safety, donors are medically screened in advance, including testing for HIV and infectious agents. At the Kansas City milk bank, it is inspected, pasteurized and then frozen before being shipping to Springfield.

While Dr. Eccher refers to donor milk as liquid gold, he says the cost is far offset by the reduced risk of the baby.

“In regard to this issue, it makes sense to look at what nature does. Does it make more sense to give an artificially produce substance that involves cow’s milk and additives and things or does it make more sense at least initially to give what nature has prepared to give human babies,” Dr. Eccher added.

He says this is not in place of mother’s milk but to augment and to keep us from denying the benefits of human milk to babies whose mothers cannot produce.

For KSMU news, I’m Shannon Bowers.