Sinai Opens Human Breast Milk Bank for NICU Babies

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and a time to acknowledge that in the first months of life, a mother's milk is the ideal food for babies. That's because breast milk imparts a multitude of health benefits to newborns that formula alone cannot. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that mothers breastfeed for a baby's first 12 months of life. While it's true that not every mother is able to feed her baby her milk, those who can should be encouraged to do so.

Getting their newborns a diet of breast milk is particularly challenging for mothers of preemies because their babies can't eat from the breast right after birth. Yet ironically, it is even more critical that these babies receive mother's milk. That's why, in spring 2012, Sinai became the first hospital in Maryland to offer its smallest patients a diet of 100% human breast milk. Thanks to the opening of a milk bank, the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) gives mothers of premature infants who weigh less than 1,250 grams – about 2.75 pounds – the option of feeding their babies with donor breast milk if they are unable to provide their own.

However, because human breast milk lacks enough calories, phosphorus and calcium for infants with gestational ages of 34 weeks or younger, it must be treated with a fortifier. Similar to baby formula, this fortifier is usually made from cow’s milk, but Sinai is now using a fortifier made completely from human milk.

“Premature infants are particularly at risk for developing NEC, or necrotizing enterocolitis, if they consume anything other than human breast milk,” says Melinda Elliott, M.D., a neonatologist who helped spearhead Sinai’s human milk initiative.

NEC is a dangerous condition that can lead to death of intestinal tissue, and nearly a quarter of infants who contract NEC do not survive. However, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found a 77 percent decrease in NEC cases when babies were fed breast milk enriched with a human milk fortifier rather than with a cow’s milk fortifier. Since Sinai made a 100 percent human milk diet available, there have not been any instances of feeding intolerance among the dozen NICU infants who have benefited so far.

Sinai receives its donor milk from the Mothers’ Milk Bank of California, based in San Jose and part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Donor milk is thoroughly screened, tested and pasteurized. The state of Maryland regulates human breast milk as a tissue, so Sinai’s blood bank had to apply for and was granted an addition to its permit to be allowed to handle donor milk. The blood bank carefully acquires, stores and administers this milk, and parents must sign consent for their infants to receive donor milk.

“In addition to a lower incidence of NEC, human breast milk gives premature infants better developmental outcomes,” says Elliott. “Studies have shown that later on in life, premature infants who were fed breast milk perform higher on IQ tests.”

Learn more about this topic by visiting the BirthPlace at Sinai.

-Holly Hosler

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.

Print this entry

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

*

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

LinkedId

Instagram

Follow Me on Instagram
  • Did you know a #desk job can be hazardous to your #health? Instead of sitting all day, consider alternating standing and sitting at work. Take regular breaks and walk around to stretch your legs and back. #WisdomWednesday #Office #SpineHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "Did you know a #desk job can be hazardous to your #health? Instead of sitting all day, consider alternating standing and sitting at work. Take regular breaks and walk around to stretch your legs and back.  #WisdomWednesday #Office #SpineHealth"
    5
    0
  • Thank you to the member's of #NorthwestHospital's Center for Wound Care and Hyperbarics. This department, made up of individuals who are both professional and #compassionate, are trained and educated to care for people who develop #chronicwounds. #healthcare #LifeBridgeHealth #Maryland #Baltimore

    lifebridgehealth: "Thank you to the member's of #NorthwestHospital's Center for Wound Care and Hyperbarics. This department, made up of individuals who are both professional and #compassionate, are trained and educated to care for people who develop #chronicwounds. 
#healthcare #LifeBridgeHealth #Maryland #Baltimore"
    7
    0
  • #TeamLifeBridge was out in full force in red for #GoRedDay, a national initiative to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in women. #GoRedWearRed #GoRedForWomen

    lifebridgehealth: "#TeamLifeBridge was out in full force in red for #GoRedDay, a national initiative to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in women. #GoRedWearRed #GoRedForWomen"
    11
    0
  • #LifeBridgeHealth CEO Neil Meltzer is proud to #GoRedForWomen to support the prevention of heart disease and stroke. #GoRedWearRed #hearthealthy #womenshealth #❤️

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth CEO Neil Meltzer is proud to #GoRedForWomen to support the prevention of heart disease and stroke. #GoRedWearRed #hearthealthy #womenshealth #❤️"
    12
    0
  • It’s National Wear Red Day! In support of women’s heart health, members of #SinaiHospital were invited to enjoy a heartwarming cup of #hotchocolate this morning. #GoRedWearRed #hearthealthy #womenshealth #TeamLifeBridge

    lifebridgehealth: "It’s National Wear Red Day! In support of women’s heart health, members of #SinaiHospital were invited to enjoy a heartwarming cup of #hotchocolate this morning. #GoRedWearRed #hearthealthy #womenshealth #TeamLifeBridge"
    10
    1
  • At #LifeBridgeHealth, we are supporting the 'Talking Hands' initiative by spreading the message that '#WeCanICan' take action to help prevent and fight #cancer. #WorldCanerDay.

    lifebridgehealth: "At #LifeBridgeHealth, we are supporting the 'Talking Hands' initiative by spreading the message that '#WeCanICan' take action to help prevent and fight #cancer. #WorldCanerDay."
    6
    0
  • According to the #AmericanHeartAssociation, heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year. Make your #hearthealth a priority and schedule a prevention check-up today with one of our highly trained physicians by calling, 410.601.7133. ‪#‎WisdomWednesday ‪#‎GoRedWearRed #heart #womenshealth #heartmonth #gored

    lifebridgehealth: "According to the #AmericanHeartAssociation, heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year. Make your #hearthealth a priority and schedule a prevention check-up today with one of our highly trained physicians by calling, 410.601.7133. ‪#‎WisdomWednesday ‪#‎GoRedWearRed #heart #womenshealth #heartmonth #gored"
    8
    0
  • Get to know #TeamLifeBridge. Meet the members of the #oncology pharmacy at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute. This diverse group of individuals is responsible for preparing infusions for children and adults at the outpatient infusion center of the #CancerInstitute. #cancer #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "Get to know #TeamLifeBridge. Meet the members of the #oncology pharmacy at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute. This diverse group of individuals is responsible for preparing infusions for children and adults at the outpatient infusion center of the #CancerInstitute. #cancer #LifeBridgeHealth"
    8
    0
  • On behalf of ‪#‎NorthwestHospital's #breastcancer patients, their families and our employees, we’d like to greatly thank Motorcycle Club Five for their heartfelt generosity to help and support the members of our community who are undergoing treatment and recovery at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center. #MotorcycleClub #GiveBack #Healthcare #Cancer #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "On behalf of ‪#‎NorthwestHospital's #breastcancer patients, their families and our employees, we’d like to greatly thank Motorcycle Club Five for their heartfelt generosity to help and support the members of our community who are undergoing treatment and recovery at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Care Center. #MotorcycleClub #GiveBack #Healthcare #Cancer #LifeBridgeHealth"
    11
    0
  • Despite the cold outside, Pierre Silva was warmed by his #GivingComfort kit and “all the different compartments” of the knapsack. The Giving Comfort program is a partnership between #LifeBridgeHealth and the @mckessoncorporation to provide patients of the Alvin & Lois Lapidus #Cancer Institute with comfort kits that include items like soft blankets and socks, inspirational messages, books, magazines and more.

    lifebridgehealth: "Despite the cold outside, Pierre Silva was warmed by his #GivingComfort kit and “all the different compartments” of the knapsack. 
The Giving Comfort program is a partnership between #LifeBridgeHealth and the @mckessoncorporation to provide patients of the Alvin & Lois Lapidus #Cancer Institute with comfort kits that include items like soft blankets and socks, inspirational messages, books, magazines and more."
    8
    0