Woman’s Hospital Foundation recently received a $10,000 grant for its Human Donor Milk Program from the William Edwin Montan Charitable Trust.
Woman’s began its Human Donor Milk Program in 2011 to accept human donor milk from two licensed human milk banks, Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas and Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin.
Louisiana has the second highest infant mortality rate and third highest rate of premature births in the nation. One in eight babies born at Woman’s is premature. If fed formula instead of breast milk, premature babies and infants with low birth weight are at 10 times the risk for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a severe, sometimes fatal illness that can damage or destroy premature babies’ small intestines.
Only breast milk – not any other mammal’s milk or formula – can colonize a baby’s intestines with healthy bacteria, which help absorb nutrients and develop the immune system, as well as prevent the growth of pathogens. Unfortunately, less than 50 percent of the mothers of premature and sick babies at Woman’s provide their babies with breast milk. Some mothers have health complications of their own or may need medications that prevent them from breastfeeding. Yet the babies of these mothers are able to get many of the life-saving benefits of breastfeeding through Woman’s Human Donor Milk Program.
Feeding a premature or sick baby with human donor milk costs approximately $40-$60 per day. Treating NEC often requires costly surgery to repair or remove the intestines, ranging from $73,300 to $186,200 per case. The cost of human donor milk is significantly less than the cost of caring for a premature or sick baby who has developed NEC.
Woman’s Human Donor Milk Program relies on community giving and grants to provide funding, as the milk is not covered by insurance or Medicaid. The William Edwin Montan Charitable Trust Grant, which is administered by Capital One, will provide funding for 1,000 bottles of human donor milk, which will feed 11 to 16 of the sickest babies in the region for one month. Woman’s anticipates needing approximately 3,614 bottles of milk for 2014 using the current criteria for participation.
To assist the Woman’s Hospital Foundation with this vital effort, please call 225-924-8720 or email us