Demand For Donated Breast Milk On The Rise, Ontario Lags Behind

Donor Breast Milk in Huge Demand

Breast milk has long been believed to be very beneficial to the early development of new born children and that has given rise to donor breast milk for babies whose mothers are not able to supply sufficient breast milk on their own, reports CBS News.

Breast milk banks across the US and Canada are reporting strong demand for the breast milk so much so that some of the milk banks are not able to keep any inventory at all.

Also in a sign of the strong demand, social networking has given rise to mother’s connecting with each other to obtain breast milk in direct person-to-person donations. While not illegal, these donations do not pass the health screening that breast milk banks conduct.

In a Canadian health study, it was found that premature babies given donated breast milk were released two days earlier than normal. The study also found that the health condition necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which afflicts premature or underweight babies was reduced from 7% to 1% when those infants were given donated breast milk.

Ontario Still Months Away From Opening Breast Milk Clinic

Both Vancouver and Calgary now have breast milk banks but Ontario is still months away from opening, reports the Toronto Star.

“It’s been on again, off again, on again, off again,” said Edith Kernerman, president of the Ontario Lactation Consultants Association. She has been waiting for the clinic to open for nearly 3 years.

“What has been stopping them? It’s baffling. I just don’t see how they can’t have gone ahead so far. Especially since we know (premature) newborns are heavily compromised — their lives are compromised — when they are not given breast milk.”

Recent research conducted by Lee and colleagues has shown donated breast milk will save the lives of 15 babies each year in Ontario by preventing a dangerous bowel condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which most often affects babies born prematurely and those with very low birth weights.

In Ontario, about 1,500 infants will have NEC, which can lead to gangrene and bowel perforations. Infants who survive can end up having large portions of their bowel removed or need colostomies, according to The Star.

The United States has 11 banks, with another three in development.

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