Premature babies whose moms aren't able to breast feed are increasingly getting assistance from milk-donating mothers.

Premature babies whose moms aren't able to breast feed are increasingly getting assistance from milk-donating mothers.

Fraser Health urges more moms to donate breast milk

'Gift of health' helps improve outlook for premature babies

Lactating mothers are urged to consider donating some of their milk to help others who aren’t able to breastfeed their own babies.

Fraser Health has opened 10 new human milk donation depots at public health units in  Hope, Agassiz, Mission, Langley, Cloverdale, Guildford, North Surrey, New Westminster, Port Moody and Burnaby, in addition to existing ones in Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge.

Women who have been screened can collect breast milk at home, freeze it and donate it at those locations.

It’s transported to the provincial milk bank at BC Women’s Hospital where it’s pooled, processed and pasteurized.

Most of the donated milk goes to feed premature and sick babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) who are at high risk of illness and infection.

“With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we are asking all breastfeeding moms to consider giving the gift of health to our most fragile patients by donating their breast milk,” said Fraser Health project development nurse Sidney Harper.

A devastating bowel disease called necrotizing enterocolitis is much more common in premature babies that are fed formula instead of human breast milk.

Mothers in some cases struggle to provide milk or aren’t permitted to as a result of illness or medications they use.

Fraser Health plans to open dispensaries at Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial hospitals to store and provide the donor human milk.

Frances Jones, coordinator of the provincial milk bank at B.C. Women’s, said the aim is to meet all requests for donor milk from the NICUs at Surrey and Royal Columbian.

The World Health Organization recommends babies get only breast milk until they’re six months old and that they continue to be breast fed with other nutritious foods added until at least two years.

For more information on how to donate see bcwomensmilkbank.ca.

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