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BayCare Health System Announces Breast Milk Supply Program for Preemies in its Neonatal Intensive Care Units|
Partnership with Prolacta Bioscience Ensures a Safe, Standardized, and Steady Supply of Pasteurized Donor Milk to Meet Feeding Needs of Premature Infants throughout BayCare Health System
CLEARWATER, FL, July 11, 2013 – BayCare Health System has announced a partnership with Prolacta Bioscience to ensure a safe, standardized, and steady supply of pasteurized donor breast milk to meet the feeding requirements of their hospitalized premature infant population. Under the partnership, Prolacta will manage the breast milk donor qualification process by conducting health screenings, blood testing, and the milk collection process for BayCare Health System’s newly established BayCare Donor Milk Program. Prolacta also will conduct safety and quality testing before pasteurizing the human milk products for in-hospital use.
BayCare is taking a leading role in the movement advocating human milk nutrition for preemies, primarily because of the growing evidence and data supporting the health benefits of an exclusive breast milk diet for premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), as opposed to cow milk-based nutrition or formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reinforced this with their 2012 policy statement on breastfeeding and the use of human milk pointing to a reduction in the odds of developing the often-fatal disease necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in extremely preterm infants (those born weighing 500-1250g), when fed an exclusively human milk diet, when compared to those fed a diet consisting of cow milk-based proteins. The AAP also reaffirmed their recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding of all babies in the first six months of life, since there is no substitution for the nutritional composition and antibodies in breast milk that an infant needs in its beginning stage of life.
“While a mother’s milk will always be the preferred choice, when an infant is born prematurely a mother’s milk is not always immediately available. In those cases, we will rely on the generosity of mothers who donate their milk through BayCare’s newly established donor milk program, so that donated milk can be safely tested and pasteurized into donor milk or human milk fortifier. This will ensure the next best possible feeding solution to this critical infant population,” said Kimberly Guy, President of St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, where about 7,000 babies are born each year.
To facilitate this partnership, BayCare’s Donor Milk Program will work to increase awareness regarding the fact that moms with a surplus of breast milk can donate their extra milk, as opposed to pouring their “liquid gold” down the drain, as many mothers do without knowledge of other options. This call to action in the community is essential since growing demand of human donor milk has resulted in supply shortages, causing some hospitals to continue the use of cow milk-based nutritional and formula supplementation. The breast milk donations from BayCare’s own community allow participating hospitals the opportunity to become self-sustaining. The hospital will be guaranteed a supply of donor breast milk based on the needs of their premature infant population, in part supported by the volume of milk donated by nursing mothers from within the greater Tampa Bay Area community.
“Through this program, mothers who have a surplus supply of breast milk can support our effort to maintain a steady supply of milk for premature infants in our hospitals,” said Karen Howell, Director of Patient Care Services at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. “These preemies depend on human milk nutrition in order to thrive. We envision BayCare’s Donor Milk Program as community mothers feeding community babies.”
The milk donor process is being made surprisingly easy and convenient by BayCare’s Donor Milk Program. Moms will be able to donate without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes, and the family doesn’t incur any out-of-pocket expenses. The initial screening is done online, certified phlebotomists come to the mother’s home, and all of the storage and shipping supplies are sent directly to the mom. Shipment pick-up is then arranged so that the donating mother and her baby won’t be burdened by having to drive the shipment coolers anywhere. For many moms this will come as a welcome option, since many struggle with what to do with their extra breast milk, and they will now be able to support premature infants in their greater Tampa Bay Area community, through a process made easy and convenient by Prolacta.
This partnership model program was first piloted in Texas, and as a result of its success, it is being rolled-out nationally by Prolacta. BayCare now becomes one of the first in the country to establish a donor milk program through which they are able to guarantee a steady supply of standardized donor breast milk for their own premature infant population in their neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Since human breast milk is highly variable, the standardization is significant because BayCare will now be able to provide donor milk with a precise amount of calories and protein, enabling targeted nutrition to help ensure appropriate growth in preemies. This ability to standardize donor milk now takes the guesswork out of the equation for neonatologists who are attempting to prescribe specific nutrition for fragile preemies.
“We are grateful to partner with BayCare Health System. Working together, we can ensure this community has a steady supply of standardized, safe, and specially formulated donor breast milk to help optimize growth in their hospitalized preterm infants,” said Scott Elster, CEO of Prolacta Bioscience. “We are also pleased to be working in a new community in which we can help address the supply issue that hospitals are facing across the country. As we work with hospitals to help recruit donors, we help them realize that they can look in their own backyards to seek support from their own community.”
Prolacta is setting the new standard of safety and quality in human milk collection, standardization and processing, with a pharmaceutical grade manufacturing facility that is the first and only of its kind. Additionally, Prolacta is the only organization that includes a safety combination of DNA matching of mom to milk, testing for drugs and bovine contamination, as well as HIV-1, HCV, and HBV through PCR testing. Like blood, human milk is a biologic; therefore, Prolacta’s advanced technology provides for an unmatched and extra margin of safety to protect from any potential transmission of virus or disease. The millions of dollars invested in Prolacta’s research, development, and unique state-of-the-art manufacturing facility has not only ensured the safety of its products, but it enabled Prolacta’s ability to apply its expertise in nutrition from a biological approach, which has never been done until now.
As leader in the science of human milk, Prolacta’s unmatched technology, safety, and processing is one reason BayCare has chosen Prolacta as its partner to help provide the desired standardized nutrition for their fragile premature infants, and they join together in setting the new standard of nutritional care in the NICU.
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