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New milk bank to help feed babies in the NICU

Apr. 13, 2022, 1:35 PM

by Jessica Pasley

For years, neonatologists at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt have touted the importance of breast milk for fragile newborns. The opening of Mothers’ Milk Bank of Tennessee in Murfreesboro in 2021 makes providing the much needed resource easier. In the past, breast milk products for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital were shipped from processing facilities as far away as Missouri and Texas.

Stephanie Attarian, MD

“We were so happy to learn that the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Tennessee was opening,” said Stephanie Attarian, MD, assistant professor of Neonatology at Children’s Hospital. “This is a huge win not only for our patients, but for all babies of Tennessee. “What is most appealing from a community standpoint is that the milk that is donated to this milk bank will stay right here in Tennessee to help our babies in the NICU.”

Mothers’ Milk Bank of Tennessee, which opened in November 2021, collects, pasteurizes and distributes breast milk. The state-of-the-art pasteurization facility has the capacity to pasteurize thousands of ounces of breast milk monthly.

According to studies, the use of human donor milk for low birth weight babies can provide better outcomes and help prevent deadly intestinal infections, which is the leading cause of death for premature infants. “Donated breast milk can help the most medically fragile babies,” said Bruce Campbell with Mothers’ Milk Bank of Tennessee.

“We are thrilled to begin working with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to provide this potentially lifesaving resource to such a vulnerable population.”

There are many options for mothers to donate milk, and the hope is that local moms see the benefit of helping the babies in their local NICUs and hospitals who desperately need it.

“If a mother donates 100 ounces of breast milk, she is potentially providing 300 meals for premature babies,” said Attarian, who is also a breastfeeding medicine specialist. “It is extremely important to make sure that our vulnerable infant population receives as much human milk as we can provide. We are so grateful for the community of donors who help support our NICU families through the gift of their milk.”

Mothers interested in donating should visit: www.milkbanktn. org/donate-milk for donation guidelines and process.

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