The NEC Society, in partnership with the Best for Babes® Foundation, announces the Miracle Milk® Stroll: the third annual worldwide stroll to raise awareness of the lifesaving power of human milk in the NICU and boost donations of milk. In May thousands of parents, friends, families and community members will gather in parks, malls, and streets around the globe. Participants will stroll to help save the lives of premature and fragile babies by increasing awareness of and access to a mother’s own milk and donor milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Feeding premature, fragile and compromised babies human milk – whether from mother or donor — has been shown to reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) by 79%. 5,000 babies each year contract this often deadly and painful disease and 500 infants die annually. NEC is an excruciating bowel inflammation that can require multiple surgeries to remove dead tissue, may result in organ failure and extensive NICU stays, and can cost between $200,000 to over $1,000,000 to treat per case. Lifelong complications and treatment may also ensue. The anguish it causes parents is indescribable.
In its most recent policy statement on breastfeeding and human milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states unequivocally that “the potent benefits of human milk are such that all preterm infants should receive human milk… If mother’s own milk is unavailable despite significant lactation support, pasteurized donor milk should be used.”
“The AAP’s call for all preterm babies to have pasteurized donor milk when mother’s own milk is unavailable is being ignored. Despite an exponential increase in non-profit milk banks, too many of the nation’s NICUs do not use donor milk,” says Jennifer Canvasser, whose son died from NEC and is the founder of NEC Society, a primary partner of the event. “It’s a tragedy that more parents, health care providers, medical directors and hospital administrators don’t know about donor milk’s existence, accessibility, safety and life-saving powers for babies in the NICU.”
“Our goal with this event is to create a nationwide consumer-driven platform to raise awareness, funds and milk donations to help make human and donor milk the standard of care in NICUs everywhere. We seek to provide NICU mothers with stellar support and help reduce suffering and deaths,” says Best for Babes Co-Founder, Danielle Rigg. “Human Milk Saves Lives®. Together, we can get more Miracle Milk® to more fragile babies.”
Last year, the Miracle Milk® Stroll was hosted by volunteers in more than 165 sites across the U.S., Canada and even a few in the U.K. and Japan. Coordinators are invited to sign up to host a stroll in their area. Strolls are held in common spaces, like parks and malls, to celebrate the human milk cause, raise awareness of the urgent need for human milk, and drive donations of milk to HMBANA milk banks. Registration requires a donation, and anyone can make a donation even if they cannot attend. The purchase of the Miracle Milk® Stroll t-shirt is optional.