Every baby deserves a fighting chance. By collecting, pasteurizing and distributing donated human milk, the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is providing the best chance at life for the most vulnerable babies, many of whom start out their lives receiving neonatal intensive care.
The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank at Mount Sinai offers the extensive health benefits of human breastmilk to the most vulnerable babies.The Milk Bank is a successful joint initiative between Mount Sinai, SickKids and Sunnybrook hospitals and is funded through the support of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and The Rogers Foundation.Through the generosity of milk donors, pasteurizedhuman donor milk is provided by prescription tohospitalized babies to help protect them againstserious illnesses and give them a healthier start.
Preterm babies in neonatal intensive care units(NICUs) are vulnerable to life-threatening conditions such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a severe bowel condition that can have serious consequences. Breastmilk is especially important for these babies to help decrease the risk of NEC. For mothers of extremely vulnerable babies in the NICU who are unable to provide breastmilk in sufficient quantities, having donor milk available for their babies is of significant benefit and can help to ward off serious illness. “Breastmilk is the ultimate nutrition for all babies,” explains Dr. Sharon Unger, Medical Directorof the Milk Bank. “But for very preterm infants, it is so much more. It is the best medicine for them.
”Dr. Unger is thrilled with what the new Milk Bank has been able to accomplish. “The first units of donor milk were dispensed in the spring of 2013, with over 11,000 ounces of milk shipped in the first five months of operation to NICUs across Ontario. At Mount Sinai alone, more than 70 tiny babies have received the health benefits of donor milk.”
Dr. Shoo Lee, Mount Sinai’s Paediatrician-in-Chiefand driver behind the Milk Bank, predicts that many preterm babies in Canada could be saved as a result of using donor milk, in addition to reducing health-care costs which can soar to $100,000 for each baby with NEC. “Our vision is for the positive results achieved at Mount Sinai to inspire additional milk banks, so that every vulnerable baby in the country has access to human donor milk.” Dr. Lee and his team remain profoundly grateful to the Rogers Hixon family, without whom the execution of this vision would not be possible.
Milk banking is a common practice worldwide that has received endorsements from the Canadian Paediatric Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.