Why is donor breast milk needed? National Milk Bank works in partnership with Prolacta Bioscience. All milk donated through National Milk Bank is sent directly to Prolacta's lab to make human milk fortifier and standardized human milk, processed from 100% human breast milk. Your donated breast milk will be purchased by hospitals throughout the United States for use in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Human breast milk is vital to the health and well being of all babies, but for babies born premature or critically ill, donated breast milk has the potential to make the difference between a long hospital stay or a quicker recovery. By donating breast milk, you provide critically ill infants with an important chance for survival.
When your breast milk donation arrives at Prolacta Bioscience's lab, it is made into human milk fortifier. Human milk fortifier is concentrated milk protein that is added to the milk a premature baby's own mother is providing for her child. Some premature babies can weigh less then 3 pounds at birth. These babies need to receive extra protein and nutrition, more than their own mother's breast milk can provide. By adding human milk fortifier, you can up to triple the amount of protein a premature infant can receive. Prolacta Bioscience is the only company that makes human milk fortifier out of human breast milk. All other milk fortifiers are made out of cow's milk. The milk fortifier made out of cow's milk can cause problems for premature babies because they are not natural human proteins and the baby's underdeveloped systems cannot always handle the cow protein. Also, when mother's own milk is not available in the NICU, standardized human milk is made from your donation and can be used to ensure a 100% human milk diet in the NICU.
Standardized human milk is processed to ensure that it always has similar calories and protein that would be found in mother's milk if milk from the mother of the premature baby were available.
Are donors paid?: Moms are not compensated for their breast milk donation for two reasons. First, our aim is to collect and process only a mother's surplus milk- milk that may otherwise be poured down the drain. We would not want to provide any financial incentive for a mother to donate milk which would be fed to her own infant.
While Prolacta conducts extensive testing and pasteurization to ensure the safety of its products for preemies, they still rely on the honesty of moms in the initial screening process to document any health practices that would be relevant, such as herbal supplements, drugs of abuse, or excessive alcohol use. As things currently stand, providing a financial incentive could potentially impact the accuracy of that screening process.