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Donor Milk Program

children's health resource centerneonatal developmental follow-up program
pediatric rehabilitation and audiology servicesDonor Milk Program

Chicago-area’s First Donor Milk Program

For women who cannot nurse exclusively as a result of a low milk supply, necessary medication usage, illness, adoption or surrogacy, the Donor Milk Program at Advocate Children’s Hospital’s - Park Ridge makes it possible for all at risk Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) babies to receive human milk.

Lutheran General Hospital’s Donor Milk Program is the first of its kind in Chicagoland. The program has been a huge success. Since it began in April of 2011, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) rates have decreased in our NICU.

The program follows guidelines established by Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), which regulates milk donation and banking.

Aside from the numerous advantages that human (breast) milk provides to the healthiest newborns, premature babies who spend time in the NICU depend on human milk for its life-saving health benefits:

  • Lowers risk of NEC - the most common and most fatal gastrointestinal emergency in the NICU.
  • Decreases risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) - a potentially blinding eye disease that is primarily seen in premature babies.
  • Lowers sepsis (infection) rates.
  • Decreases length of stay in the NICU by approximately two weeks.
  • Decreases incidence of feeding intolerance and diarrhea.

How the Program Works

Collection - As wonderful a gift as donated breast milk is, not every woman can be a human milk donor under HMBANA guidelines. Women must undergo rigorous medical tests, including blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis, and pass strict lifestyle criteria before their milk will be accepted. Once approved, women ship their milk to the milk bank or bring their donated milk to a Milk Depot facility, where it is frozen and shipped for processing and pasteurization.

Pasteurization - Once donated milk has been received at the Milk Bank, it is pooled and pasteurized to destroy viruses and bacteria. After pasteurization, the milk is tested again to ensure that is safe for the babies.

Delivery - Advocate Children’s Hospital receives shipments of pasteurized donor human milk from the Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank and will soon begin receiving milk from the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. After receiving consent from parents, we can ensure that their premature babies in the NICU are receiving 100% human milk exclusively, which significantly increases their chances of surviving and thriving.

In its first six months of operation, our Donor Milk Program provided nearly 3,000 ounces of pasteurized donor human milk to babies.  That success has inspired Advocate Children’s Hospital to provide even more donor milk services. In January 2012, Lutheran General Hospital began screening potential human milk donors and accepting milk, making us home to the first Milk Depot in Northern Illinois.

Milk Depot at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital
The Milk Depot is a community outreach program that facilitates milk donations for mothers in Northeastern Illinois. A registered nurse (RN) who is board certified in lactation (IBCLC) will assist with every aspect of the milk donation, including blood draws and milk shipment. This unique program demonstrates Advocate Children’s Hospital’s commitment to serving women and their families.

To learn more about the Donor Milk Program or the Milk Depot at Advocate Children’s Hospital, contact one of our NICU Lactation Educators at 847.723.7341.

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