Today, new moms have more choices than ever about how, where, and what they feed their babies. While we all know that breast milk is the best nutritional option when that’s possible, but not every birth goes according to plan.
In NICUs across the country, tiny infants born weeks or months prematurely struggle for life while their parents sit helplessly by. One of the only things moms can do for their babies in this condition is to pump breast milk. However, premature infants often need more than just their mothers’ milk to survive. In these cases, a pediatrician will sometimes prescribe a human milk fortifier to be added to breast milk. These fortifiers provide the smallest babies with additional calories and nutrition in a concentrated form to help them thrive. Unfortunately, most of these fortifiers are made from cow’s milk, which is hard on tiny stomachs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies, including preemies, receive only human milk until the age of six months.
Right here in California, one company, Prolacta Bioscience, has taken the initiative to provide NICUs all over the U.S. with the only fortifier for premature infants made from 100% human milk. This fortifier not only helps tiny babies grow, it can prevent the dangerous intestinal disease NEC, which is the number one killer of preemies in this country. Prolacta just opened a new facility with the largest human milk freezer in the world to help meet the growing needs of hospitals that care for preemies. About a third of the nation’s 300+ NICUs have used the Prolacta product.
Prolacta’s fortifier is created from breast milk generously donated by nursing moms. Prolacta has a range of affiliated milk banks that allow busy new moms to donate excess milk from the comfort of their own home. Several of these milk banks also donate dollars for ounces of breast milk to great causes like the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. All of the milk collected by these affiliated milk banks makes its way through a rigorous process of temperature control, disease screening, quality testing, pasteurization and sterilization, so it is safe for preemies to ingest. Milk is either formulated into the human milk fortifier or a standardized donor milk product that is sometimes used when the mother’s milk is not available.
Healthy, nursing mothers interested in donating breast milk to premature infants in need can find a list of Prolacta-affiliated milk banks here. A safe, standardized supply of 100% human milk is part of the modern solution for the healthcare of preemies.