Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank, America’s newest accredited human milk bank

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The Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank (MWMMB) recently moved to and equipped a new facility at 2995 S. West Temple in Salt Lake City. It is now the 28thfully operational accredited human milk bank in the United States.

Earlier today, Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank celebrated this accomplishment with a ribbon cutting ceremony with its founding sponsors, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health.

In October, Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank became the 28th milk bank fully accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, after a rigorous three-day accreditation process.

This accomplishment has been many years in the making and comes as the result of many hardworking people and our community dedicated to bringing a full-functioning milk bank to Utah, to provide for the tiniest, most fragile babies in local and regional newborn intensive care units. 

None of this would be possible without the more than 500 donor moms, who over the years, have generously shared their breast milk to help save the lives of preemie babies.

The opening of the milk bank in Utah is due in part to a dedicated board who has sustained this mission for more than ten years, a skilled employee team, and founding sponsors – Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health – for their generous support.

Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health and jointly committed $500,000 beginning in late 2018 to Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank in Founding Sponsor donations to provide core funding to help the organization fulfill its mission of promoting infant health and nutrition by screening, processing, and dispensing donor human milk.

Each health system has donated a total of $250,000.

The Founding Sponsor funding from Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health enabled MWMMB’s move into a new, larger facility, as well as for the facility buildout, equipment, and operational support to conduct human milk pasteurization and milk distribution here in the Intermountain region.

Why a Local Milk Bank is Vital to the Community

Nearly 1 in 10 babies (9.4%) born in Utah are preterm, arriving before completing the normal 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. These babies miss out on the important growth and development that happens in the final weeks, and many preterm babies spend days, weeks or even months in Newborn intensive care units. For babies in the NICU, pasteurized donor human milk is vital and can save lives.

Only 30 percent of mothers with babies in the newborn ICU can supply enough milk for their premature infant. Milk banks are there to support the other 70 percent who either cannot express any milk or express quantities too low for infant sustainability.

Safe donor human milk is required to bridge that gap. Breast milk provides nutrient and non-nutrient benefits that cannot be provided by infant formulas.

Milk banks screen high producing donors, collect, pasteurize, and then test the milk to assure quality and safety for newborn ICU infants. They then send the pasteurized milk to newborn intensive care units and special care nurseries for infants in need.

Milk banks also work to increase breastfeeding rates, advocate for nursing mothers, to increase the supply of donor milk, and as nonprofit businesses, keep costs as low as possible. An exclusive human milk diet allows preterm infants to tolerate and advance to full feedings faster, go home sooner, and experience fewer complications.

In addition, a major life-threatening complication experienced by pre-term babies, necrotizing enterocolitis, may be reduced by almost 80 percent. Use of donor human milk rather than formula to supplement premature infants’ diets can thus be life-saving.

Exclusively breastfed infants experience fewer infections and allergies. They have better cognitive and behavioral development, and they grow up to have lower rates of asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

For questions or location information, contact the Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank at info@giveyourmilk.org.

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