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Buffalo breast-milk bank to begin accepting donations soon

The New York Milk Bank will soon open a Buffalo depot center for mothers who wish to donate extra breast milk to help save lives and improve the health of vulnerable premature babies.

Baby’s Sweet Beginnings, a boutique-style store in Lancaster that serves the prenatal, birthing and postpartum needs of parents, will become a depository for the breast milk, which soon will be made available to mothers with babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Western New York.

“It’s definitely a safer way to share breast milk,” said Polly Thoman, a board certified lactation consultant and owner of the business, at 231 Aurora St., who delivered three children prematurely.

Several breast-feeding moms in Western New York already have volunteered to help the milk bank, Thoman said, although more are needed. Those interested can call Baby’s New Beginnings at 681-8100 – a number that also doubles as a 24/7 parent help line – or visit

Twenty states already have milk banks and nine others, including New York, have banks in development. The Buffalo center joins two others in Manhattan. About 20 more are expected to open by the end of the year.

“We are excited to have these centers open and operational so that the hundreds of lactating mothers who have contacted us can begin donating their excess breast milk,” Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, founder and executive director of the New York Milk Bank, said in a news release. She is a lactation consultant and family nurse practitioner in the Hudson River Valley.

The smallest preterm infants are the most in need of milk banks, Bouchet-Horwitz said. In 2012, these infants in New York received only 11,000 ounces of donor milk from out-of-state suppliers; an estimated 200,000 ounces were needed.

Thoman said milk delivered to her store by donor moms will be sent to an Ohio facility for testing and pasteurizing, then returned to participating hospitals in New York State, including NICUs in Western New York, while similar facilities are created closer to home. That should be accomplished by Mother’s Day.

New parents in need of breast milk are encouraged to talk to hospital staff shortly after delivery of their child or visit the New York Milk Bank website for more information.

– Scott Scanlon