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Resoundingly Human

Sep 10, 2021

Over 15 million infants around the world are born prematurely each year and can experience health complications and lengthy hospitalizations as a result of underdevelopment and immature immune systems.

One of the best resources for these babies can come from their mother’s breast milk, which has unique growth factors and nutritional qualities that can help combat a number of serious conditions that can impact premature infants.

But for babies whose mothers may be unable to produce milk due to their baby’s premature birth, or have health conditions or medications that preclude breastfeeding, and a physician recommends breast milk as the preferred choice for those infants’ needs, what are the options?

The answer comes from a resource that we might not all be familiar with. You’ve heard of blood banks where blood donated by the public is having a life-saving impact? Did you know the same resource exists for breast milk, with donor banks across the country providing this valuable resource to these tiny patients?!

Joining me to discuss work being done to help improve access to these donor milk resources and ensure their beneficial impact can reach even more infants in need is Lisa Maillart with the University of Pittsburgh. She and a team of researchers partnered with the largest donor milk bank in the U.S. to help improve their existing systems and processes and realize significant outcomes. Their work will be featured in an upcoming edition of the INFORMS journal Service Science.