by Linda Russell, KY3 News
4:04 PM CST, January 30, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Moms across the country are learning more and more about the benefits of breastfeeding. Sometimes, however, the most fragile babies are fed formula instead. Newborns at Cox South now have the option of donor breast milk.
Cason is just over a week old. Being premature, he's only four pounds. The little guy has started something big in the neonatal intensive care unit.
"Up until now, we have had to use formula," said Dr. Ann Hilmo, a neonatologist for CoxHealth.
Cason is one of the first at Cox South to receive donor breast milk.
"You just feel like you're doing the best for this baby," said Hilmo.
Sometimes a mother isn't able to provide breast milk. It may be because a baby is extremely premature, the mother's health condition, or perhaps a medication the mother is taking that is unsafe in breast milk.
Now the St. Luke's Heart of America Mothers' Milk Bank in Kansas City is making it an option babies like Cason.
"It comes from the milk bank frozen in sterile containers, and we thaw it gently," said Hilmo.
Hilmo says, decades ago, breast milk banks were common, but times changed.
"Because of concern of infection, especially with the rise of HIV and other infections we know can be transmitted, and also because of the community 'ick' factor, where they just didn't even want to think about it, the breast milk banks were closed down," she said.
Over the last several years, pasteurized donor breast milk has made a comeback, especially on the coasts.
"There are still many areas of the country that don't have breast milk banks, so we're lucky that Kansas City has decided to build one up and now has one available for us," Hilmo said.
Hilmo says breast milk is best, especially for premies, who are more susceptible to a very serious bowel infection called necrotizing entercolitis.
"Once you start on formula, your bowel is colonized with completely different bacteria and organisms," said Hilmo.
When their own mother's milk isn't an option, babies can still get the best.
"The science is there, showing that breast milk feedings, starting as early as possible and continued as long as possible, help more than just about anything else we can do," Hilmo said.
The donated milk is available to both premature and full term babies. Mercy Hospital also plans to offer babies donor milk soon. A brand new organization in Springfield called the Ozarks Breastfeeding Coalition is working to set up a breast milk depot, so mothers from this area can donate.
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