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Milk Bank for premature babies

Tuesday 11th Sep 2018

South Australia’s most vulnerable babies will have access to pasteurised donor breast milk through a new partnership between SA Health and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the milk bank is an exciting first for South Australian mothers and babies.

“I am delighted to announce the start of this important initiative that will see our community’s smallest babies having access to pasteurised donor breast milk delivered straight to the neonatal nursery,” Minister Wade said.

“Supporting families and their babies at such a critical time will strengthen our community as a whole.

“We are committed to ensuring every South Australian gets the best possible start in life, and services like these are invaluable.”

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) and Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) will become the first neonatal nurseries in the country to utilise the Milk Bank by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, providing pasteurised donor breast milk to preterm babies in their care.

Shelly Park, Chief Executive of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, said she was honoured the organisation could make a greater contribution to healthcare in this way. 

“Our Milk Bank will mean neonatal nurseries in South Australia will be able to order pasteurised breast milk on demand, just as they currently do for blood, to help these premature babies.  

“The Milk Bank will screen donors, collect, process and test the donated breast milk, then track and distribute this precious resource,” Ms Park said.

“We couldn’t be prouder to apply our leading-edge research, skills and expertise to human milk banking to potentially improve the health outcomes of so many at-risk babies. 

“We’ve demonstrated our unrivalled approach to safety and quality when it comes to collecting, testing, processing, storing and distributing blood products. 

“We value our partnership with the South Australian Government who have not only supported the establishment of our Milk Bank, but who are collaborating with us in the delivery of this innovative project.”

Jennifer Gillis, a WCH Neonatal Nursing/Midwife Educator, said the service will be invaluable for preterm babies.

“While a mother’s own milk is the best, many babies born prematurely in Australia do not have access to a sufficient supply of their mother’s own breast milk,” Ms Gillis said.
“Breastmilk increases immunity, is high in nutrients and is easy for their immature digestive systems to process.

“It can also reduce the risk of complications in premature babies. 

“Should supply of a mother’s own breast milk be insufficient, pasteurised donor breast milk is the preferred alternative.”

For more information on the Milk Bank visit www.milkbank.com.au

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