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Donor Human Milk: Fast Facts

NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank (NMMB) is a community based, not-for-profit organization thatprovides screened and pasteurized donor human milk (DHM) to babies in need when mother’s own milk is not available.

  • NMMB is part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), a regulatory body that establishes standards and guidelines for the operation of milk banks.

  • There are 3 HMBANA milk banks in Canada: Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. Quebec also has milk bank associated with their blood bank. There are 17 HMBANA milk banks in the US.

  • NMMB uses the Holder Method of pasteurization (heating to 62.5o C for 30 min), which eliminates harmful bacteria while maintaining the majority of the milk’s beneficial components.

  • Each batch is tested for bacteria post-pasteurization by a third party laboratory. Milk is dispensed when test results are negative.

  • DHM is dispensed to hospitals, as well as infants in the community. It is dispensed by prescription from a physician, midwife or nurse practitioner.

  • Human milk has been shown to protect against problems such as NEC, URI, sepsis, obesity, diabetes, and food allergies. A mother’s own milk is optimal for her baby under most circumstances. However, when unavailable or undesirable, DHM is the next best alternative.

  • DHM is dispensed based on availability; highest-priority recipients are preterm and ill hospitalized infants.

Common reasons for use of DHM include:

  • preterm birth

  • failure to thrive

  • infants susceptible to or recovering from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)

  • malabsorption syndromes

  • short-gut syndrome

  • renal failure

  • inborn errors of metabolism

  • allergies or intolerance to cow and soy milk

  • immune suppression therapy

  • pre- or post-surgical nutrition and immunological support

  • cardiac problems

  • bronchopulmonary dysplasia

  • pediatric burn patients

  • treatment for infectious diseases (intractable diarrhea, gastroenteritis, infantile botulism, sepsis,

  • pneumonia, hemorrhagic conjunctivitis)

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