The Best Children’s Hospitals and NICUs use Donor Milk

The NEC Society is committed to reducing the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). We strive to raise awareness, empower families, and provide information on factors that increase or decrease the risks of NEC. It is imperative that families have open, direct access to information that may impact their preemie’s risk of developing NEC.

DSC_2432Premature and vulnerable infants face an array of NEC risk factors, including very low birth weight, blood transfusions and antibiotics. Fortunately, human milk, probiotics, and standardized feeding protocols have been shown to help protect our most fragile infants from NEC. Evidence demonstrates that formula-fed infants are at a heightened risk of developing NEC, while an exclusive human milk diet offers these infants the most protection. When mother’s own milk is unavailable for premature infants, pasteurized donor breast milk is the next best option

My premature twins received care at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital; an institution that does not currently offer or provide their most premature and vulnerable infants with pasteurized donor milk. In my efforts to encourage Mott to provide their most fragile infants (without mother’s milk) with pasteurized donor milk, I began reaching out to other institutions. I wanted to know – what hospitals DO provide their most fragile infants (in need) with pasteurized donor milk?

I learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics’ call for all preterm babies to have pasteurized donor milk (when mother’s own milk is unavailable) is largely being ignored. Sixty percent of the nation’s NICUs do not use donor milk. It is a shame that more parents, clinicians, medical directors and hospital administrators are unaware of donor milk’s existence, accessibility, safety and life-saving powers for premature and vulnerable infants.

Recently, I called my local children’s hospitals as well as the nation’s highest ranked children’s hospitals, and asked to speak with a lactation consultant, NICU nurse practitioner, or NICU dietitian. Once connected, I asked:

“When mother’s own milk is unavailable, do you provide pasteurized donor milk to your most premature and vulnerable infants?”

I am delighted to report that many of our nation’s most prestigious institutions are providing their premature and vulnerable infants with donor milk. Unfortunately, the vast majority of institutions do not provide our most fragile infants with donor milk or an exclusive human milk diet – an intervention that offers the best protection from developing NEC.

I am proud to share that these children’s hospitals DO provide their most fragile infants with pasteurized donor milk when mother’s milk is unavailable:

Indicates institutions verified by the NEC Society. Other institutions were referred by NEC Society supporters.

ARIZONA

  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital ✅
  • Scottsdale Shea Hospital ✅

ARKANSAS

  • Arkansas Children’s Hospital

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

CONNECTICUT

  • Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford
  • Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

  • Dekalb Medical Center, Decatur ✅
  • Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah ✅

ILLINOIS

IOWA

  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

KENTUCKY

  • Kosair Children’s Hospital, Louisville

LOUISIANA

MARYLAND

MASSACHUSETTS

  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston ✅
  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Boston Medical Center ✅
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston ✅
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston ✅
  • St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Boston ✅
  • Tufts Medical Center, Boston ✅

MICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

  • Maple Grove Hospital, Maple Grove

MISSISSIPPI

MISSOURI

MONTANA

  • Benefis Health System, Great Falls

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Duke Children’s Hospital, Durham
  • Levine’s Children’s Hospital, Charlotte
  • Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, Winston Salem ✅

OHIO

OKLAHOMA

  • Children’s Hospital at Oklahoma University Medical Center

OREGON

  • Randall Children’s Hospital, Portland
  • Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend, Eugene

PENNSYLVANIA

SOUTH CAROLINA

  • Medical University of South Carolina

SOUTH DAKOTA

  • Avera McKennan, Sioux Falls

TENNESSEE

  • Baptist Women’s Hospital, Memphis
  • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital
  • Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital
  • Regional One Medical Center, Memphis
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

TEXAS

VIRGINIA

  • Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Norfolk
  • Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg

WASHINGTON

  •  Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma

WISCONSIN

  • Meriter Hospital, Madison

MULTI-STATE HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS

I am disappointed to share that these children’s hospitals DO NOT provide their most fragile infants with pasteurized donor milk when their mother’s milk is unavailable; they rely on formula, which increases their most fragile infants’ risk of developing NEC:

  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, PA
  • Citrus Memorial Health System, FL
  • Detroit Medical Center, MI
  • Henry Ford Medical Center, MI
  • Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, NY
  • Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center, FL
  • University of Michigan, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, MI

Does your children’s hospital provide their most fragile infants with pasteurized donor milk when mother’s milk is unavailable? Let’s build a comprehnsive list that shows who’s heeding the AAP’s call for human milk for our preemies and who’sIMG_2586 altogether ignoring it and putting our most fragile infants at risk.

Too many of us can attest to NEC’s exceptionally high morbidity and mortality rates. Let’s do what we can to protect future babies. Our most vulnerable infants without mother’s milk need protection from NEC – they need access to pasteurized donor milk now. Let’s start a national, public, open conversation. All families of fragile infants deserve to know: which children’s hospitals prioritize human milk and provide their babies with the best protections from necrotizing enterocolitis?

13 thoughts on “The Best Children’s Hospitals and NICUs use Donor Milk

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  3. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, CT has used HMBANA donor human milk on a case by case basis for over 16 years; we made it available routinely on August 1, 2010! We have begun ti publish our data with this experience. Please add us to your list! Kathleen Marinelli MD, IBCLC, FABM

  4. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, CT has used HMBANA donor human milk on a case by case basis for over 16 years; we made it available routinely on August 1, 2010! We have begun to publish our data with this experience. Please add us to your list! Kathleen Marinelli MD, IBCLC, FABM

    • Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing this information! And most importantly, thank you for your commitment to human milk for infants – esp fragile and premature babies at risk of NEC!

  5. Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital uses donor milk from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on a case by case basis. Please include us on your list of hospitals using donor milk.
    Thank you. Robin Murtha, MSN, C-PNP, IBCLC, MBA

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  7. My daughter was a preemie (29.5 weeks) 13 years ago. Fortunately, I had an abundant milk supply for her. I actually had so much that I had to dump some, as our NICU didn’t have enough storage. I would have cheerfully given away what my daughter did not need, rather than waste it, but at that time, they did not use donated milk. I am so pleased to see that they do now. Thanks for your work promoting this issue. To know that I was helping other preemies as well as DD would have made me feel better, back in that fragile time.

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