The nonprofit New York Milk Bank today announced the grand opening of the first and only comprehensive, community-based milk bank dedicated to serving New York State, including current and future sites in Western New York.
The opening ceremony was held at the Milk Bank’s new facility in Westchester County, where it will process donated breast milk and coordinate distribution of pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) to feed babies in need, particularly premature and sick infants.
“We are thrilled to be able to help address the critical need for accessible, affordable donor breast milk in New York and beyond,” Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, Milk Bank founder and executive director, said in a new release.
Related story: Lancaster baby boutique helps address the need in WNY
“Research shows human milk provides the best nutrition for babies and protects against numerous life-threatening infections, especially in vulnerable pre-term infants,” said Bouchet-Horwitz, a board-certified lactation consultant and family nurse practitioner. “Establishing The New York Milk Bank has been a true labor of love for our team, and we are committed to improving the health and survival of babies in need by providing safe PDHM when their own mother’s milk is not available.”
Approximately one in 10 babies is born prematurely. These infants often face significant health challenges and are at particular risk of developing the serious intestinal disease necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which may be fatal. Feeding premature babies exclusively with human breast milk can dramatically reduce the risk, so it is crucial that hospitals have a dependable, affordable supply of pasteurized donor milk.
New York State will need an estimated 200,000 ounces of such milk per year just to meet the needs of the smallest premature infants. Until the opening of the Milk Bank, milk donated by mothers in New York has been sent to milk banks in other states for processing and distribution.
Baby’s Sweet Beginnings – a boutique-style store in Lancaster that serves the prenatal, birthing and postpartum needs of parents – earlier this year become the first depository in Western New York, making breast milk available to mothers with babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the region.
More than 20 hospitals in New York are using donor milk. The Milk Bank is working with others to ensure donor milk is available to all infants in need across the state. Mothers who have been screened can donate milk at one of the 16 depots in New York accepting donations – from Buffalo to New York City – with more opening in the coming months. Mothers may also ship their frozen milk directly to the Milk Bank.
“We are incredibly thankful for the generosity of mothers who donate their extra breast milk to help save the lives of premature, low birth weight and sick infants,” said Roseanne Motti, Milk Bank manager.
The Milk Bank is licensed by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) to ensure safety. To learn more about the Milk Bank or find out how to become a donor or recipient of breast milk, visit NYMilkBank.org.