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 premiere health care organization, call 866-404-DOCS.

Print this entry

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

*

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

LinkedId

Instagram

Follow Me on Instagram
  • Congratulations to our six #LifeBridgeHealth nurses, including #SinaiHospital #ER-7 nurse Kimberly Bowen, featured in @baltmag as some of our area's "2015 Top #Nurses." Pick up you're copy today and see our other featured nurses. #TopNurses #Baltimore #Magazine #Hospital #HealthCare #FutureOfHealthCareIsHere

    lifebridgehealth: "Congratulations to our six #LifeBridgeHealth nurses, including #SinaiHospital #ER-7 nurse Kimberly Bowen, featured in @baltmag as some of our area's "2015 Top #Nurses." Pick up you're copy today and see our other featured nurses. #TopNurses #Baltimore #Magazine #Hospital #HealthCare #FutureOfHealthCareIsHere"
    2
    0
  • #LifeBridgeHealth employees put down their charts and stethoscopes and picked up paintbrushes, when the Employee Activities Committee hosted a "Paint Night" at #SinaiHospital earlier this week. Just one of the many great reasons to work at LifeBridge Health! #Painting #PaintNight #Teamwork #WorkFun

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth employees put down their charts and stethoscopes and picked up paintbrushes, when the Employee Activities Committee hosted a "Paint Night" at #SinaiHospital earlier this week. Just one of the many great reasons to work at LifeBridge Health! #Painting #PaintNight #Teamwork #WorkFun"
    5
    0
  • For #EarthWeek, #NorthwestHospital celebrated with a big yard sale! Instead of throwing away old equipment and office furniture, the hospital sold them at affordable prices so they could be #reused and #recycled. The money raised will support programs for our patients. #GoGreen #BeGreen #YardSale #Bargains #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "For #EarthWeek, #NorthwestHospital celebrated with a big yard sale! Instead of throwing away old equipment and office furniture, the hospital sold them at affordable prices so they could be #reused and #recycled. The money raised will support programs for our patients. #GoGreen #BeGreen #YardSale #Bargains #LifeBridgeHealth"
    2
    0
  • Clinton Gilbert, a patient at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at #LifeBridgeHealth, enjoyed the positive affirmations in the hope chest of his @givingcomfort kit. #Cancer #GivingComfort #GiveHope #ComfortKit #CancerFighter #CancerPatient

    lifebridgehealth: "Clinton Gilbert, a patient at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at #LifeBridgeHealth, enjoyed the positive affirmations in the hope chest of his @givingcomfort kit. #Cancer #GivingComfort #GiveHope #ComfortKit #CancerFighter #CancerPatient"
    14
    0
  • #SinaiHospital and #NorthwestHospital are participating in "Flags Across Maryland," a Living Legacy Foundation initiative to commemorate #DonateLifeMonth. More than 123,000 people are waiting for a live-saving transplant nationally, including 3,500 in #Maryland alone. #beadonor #donatelife #donor #givelife

    lifebridgehealth: "#SinaiHospital and #NorthwestHospital are participating in "Flags Across Maryland," a Living Legacy Foundation initiative to commemorate #DonateLifeMonth. More than 123,000 people are waiting for a live-saving transplant nationally, including 3,500 in #Maryland alone. #beadonor #donatelife #donor #givelife"
    10
    0
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, #vitaminD can provide your children with many #health benefits including, prevention against future bone problems, #diabetes and even #heartdisease. So, now that #spring has finally sprung – get outside and enjoy the sun! #TipTuesday #Flowers #HealthCare #LifeBridgeHealth #SinaiHospital

    lifebridgehealth: "According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, #vitaminD can provide your children with many #health benefits including, prevention against future bone problems, #diabetes and even #heartdisease. So, now that #spring has finally sprung – get outside and enjoy the sun! #TipTuesday #Flowers #HealthCare #LifeBridgeHealth #SinaiHospital"
    8
    0
  • This week (April 20-24) #LifeBridgeHealth is encouraging employees and community members to #GoGreen for #EarthWeek by participating in a series of #events across our facilities. Today's event theme: "One Mug, One Planet."

    lifebridgehealth: "This week (April 20-24) #LifeBridgeHealth is encouraging employees and community members to #GoGreen for #EarthWeek by participating in a series of #events across our facilities. Today's event theme: "One Mug, One Planet.""
    4
    0
  • Marihelen Spencer has been a #NorthwestHospital #volunteer for 26 years! Thank you so much for all that you do for our organization. #GiveBack #NationalVolunteerWeek #LifeBridgeHealth

    lifebridgehealth: "Marihelen Spencer has been a #NorthwestHospital #volunteer for 26 years! Thank you so much for all that you do for our organization. #GiveBack #NationalVolunteerWeek #LifeBridgeHealth"
    11
    0
  • #LifeBridgeHealth's Community Service Corp hosted a fair at #SinaiHospital where employees could learn about volunteer opportunities in their community. #NationalVolunteerWeek #Volunteer #Baltimore #HelpingHand #Give #PayItForward

    lifebridgehealth: "#LifeBridgeHealth's Community Service Corp hosted a fair at #SinaiHospital where employees could learn about volunteer opportunities in their community. #NationalVolunteerWeek #Volunteer #Baltimore #HelpingHand #Give #PayItForward"
    12
    0
  • A recent article from @Glamourmag reminds us: "Don't wait too long between eating. The biggest cause of overeating is undereating." #TipTuesday #HealthyEating

    lifebridgehealth: "A recent article from @Glamourmag reminds us: "Don't wait too long between eating. The biggest cause of overeating is undereating." #TipTuesday #HealthyEating"
    5
    1