Carolina Pines serving as depot for needed breast milk donations
Each year, 800 very low birth-weight (VLBW) babies (infants born weighing less than 3.3 pounds) are born in South Carolina. When babies are born prematurely, many of their organs are not fully developed. This puts them at risk for a number of diseases within the first weeks of life.
Many of these diseases can be prevented by making sure these tiny babies receive the antibodies and nutrients found in human breast milk, but unfortunately, sometimes these babies’ mothers have difficulty producing enough milk. Nursing mothers in and near Hartsville, who would like a convenient and safe way to donate their excess breast milk to support the state’s most vulnerable babies, will now be able to drop off that life-saving breast milk at Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center due to the recent establishment of a depot site for the state’s first human milk bank.
Holly Prescott, RN BSN, who serves as International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, said, “Donated breast milk is in short supply in the United States, particularly since the 2012 policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics supporting breastfeeding for all infants and the use of donor milk for very premature infants.
For many years, South Carolina neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have used milk banks in Texas, Colorado, California, and North Carolina to access a safe, pasteurized supply. In an effort to respond to South Carolina mothers and providers who desired the excess breast milk in South Carolina to go to South Carolina babies, the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina (MMBSC), the state’s first nonprofit milk bank, was launched in April 2015.
A partnership between the South Carolina Birth Outcomes Initiative (SCBOI), the South Carolina Neonatal Medicine Consortium and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), this milk bank provides breast milk to the VLBW babies in NICUs throughout the state. Surpassing expectations, over 50,000 ounces of “liquid gold” have been donated since the launch opening up access to any South Carolina hospitalized infant!
Human milk donations are accepted at depot sites throughout the state such as the one we have created at Carolina Pines, frozen and then shipped to the MMBSC in Charleston.“ “Research has shown we need to be getting this milk into babies to protect them," said Sarah Taylor, M.D., a neonatologist at MUSC and the new director of the MMBSC. “Now every healthy, lactating mother will have the ability to save another baby’s life if she is willing to go through a screening process and donate her milk through the milk bank.”
The milk bank is operated by MUSC, but is physically located in North Charleston. South Carolina mothers are able to donate breast milk at now 14 satellite milk bank depots around the state, including Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center. ”MMBSC is a key component in continuing our efforts to improve the health of babies in South Carolina,” said BZ (Melanie) Giese, director of BOI for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
“SCBOI advocates the importance of breast milk in the health of infants – supporting efforts of birthing hospitals in South Carolina to become Baby Friendly-certified and encouraging providers to educate their patients on the importance of breastfeeding. The milk bank is an extension of this philosophy.” For more information about the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina and how you can help, visit www. scmilkbank.org or call Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center nursery (843-339-4369) and ask to speak with the lactation consultant about milk donation.