SAN ANTONIO, February 13, 2014 – Premature babies at Methodist Children’s Hospital, a campus of Methodist Hospital, are benefitting from a new program that allows mothers to donate their surplus breast milk to a newly established milk bank. Potential donors can go online to apply through a simple, hassle-free process that ensures infants born too soon receive the nutrition they need with FirstSteps donor milk.
“Breast milk is by far the gold standard when it comes to nutrition for a newborn. For premature infants, evidence-based research shows breast milk offers a superior diet that has never been duplicated in formula. Compared to premature babies who are fed formula, babies who are fed breast milk have a lower mortality rate, a lower risk of infection, a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (“NEC” or gangrene of the bowel) and leave the hospital sooner,” said Dr. Alexander Kenton, M.D., neonatologist, NICU director, Methodist Children’s Hospital. “Having a donor milk bank provide safe, nutritious human breast milk will improve the quality of care we deliver in the NICU.”
FirstSteps donor milk will be formulated into human milk nutritional products and pasteurized using rigorous safety and quality testing procedures. This will include a standardized pasteurized milk formulation for use in the newborn intensive care unit at Methodist Children’s Hospital that will help meet the feeding requirements of hospitalized premature infant population. The standardization is significant since human breast milk is highly variable, and Methodist will now be able to provide preemies in their newborn intensive care unit (NICU) with donor milk that has a precise amount of calories and protein, enabling targeted nutrition to help ensure appropriate growth in preemies.
The milk supply program will be run in partnership with Prolacta Bioscience to maintain a safe, standardized, and steady supply of pasteurized donor breast milk. Under this partnership, Prolacta will manage the breast milk donor qualification process by conducting health screenings, blood testing, and the milk collection process. Prolacta’s high-tech manufacturing facility will be used to conduct the safety and quality testing before pasteurizing the human milk products for in-hospital use.
Methodist Children’s Hospital FirstSteps milk donor process will be easy and convenient. Moms will be able to donate without leaving their homes, and the family doesn’t incur any out-of-pocket expenses. The initial screening is done online, a certified phlebotomist will come to the mother’s home or office, and all of the storage and shipping supplies are sent directly to the mom. Shipment pick-up is then arranged so that the donating mother and her baby won’t be burdened by having to drive the shipment coolers anywhere. For many moms this will come as a welcome option, since many struggle with what to do with their extra breast milk, and they will now be able to support premature infants in their community, through a process made easy and convenient by Prolacta.
To learn how to become a donor, visit SAHealth.com/firststeps or call (855) 348-5276.
Growing evidence supports the health benefits of an exclusive breast milk diet for premature infants in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), as opposed to cow milk-based nutrition or formula. A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics is an example of this, concluding that extremely premature infants who are fed an exclusive human milk diet instead of preterm formula have a significantly lower incidence of surgery associated with NEC and require fewer days of intravenous feedings.
Prolacta is setting the new standard of safety and quality in human milk collection, standardization and processing, with a pharmaceutical grade manufacturing facility that is the first and only of its kind. Additionally, Prolacta is the only organization that includes a safety combination of DNA matching of mom to milk, testing the milk for drugs and bovine contamination, as well as for HIV-1, HCV, and HBV through PCR testing. Prolacta’s advanced technology provides for an unmatched and extra margin of safety to protect from any potential transmission of virus or disease.
About Methodist Children’s Hospital
Methodist Children’s Hospital opened in 1998 as the first hospital in South Texas built from the ground up especially for children. The hospital has the region’s largest newborn intensive care unit with 78 licensed beds. Babies and children are transported from throughout South Texas to receive a higher level of medical care not available in their own communities. The hospital has grown to become one of the leading U.S. hospitals providing bone marrow transplants for children. Methodist Children’s Hospital is also recognized for its outstanding emergency department, surgical services, neurosurgery, orthopedics, pediatric intensive care and pediatric radiology services.
About Prolacta Bioscience
Prolacta Bioscience, Inc., prolacta.com is a life science company dedicated to improving quality of life by Advancing the Science of Human Milk™. Prolacta creates specialty formulations made exclusively from human milk for the nutritional needs of critically ill, premature infants in NICU. It is the first and only company to provide a commercially available human milk fortifier made from 100% human milk, Prolact+ H2MF. Prolacta operates a pharmaceutical grade processing plant and has designed and patented processes that enable them to make their one-of-a-kind products. Prolacta is committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of the most vulnerable premature babies through world-class research and innovative products.