Harrisburg—Mother’s milk plays a fundamental role in the development of all babies, but it is critical to the growth and survival of preemies. New requirements regulating milk banks in Pennsylvania will help ensure that a safe, stable supply of human milk and milk products is available for those in need.
Born premature herself, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) said the safety and ethical concerns being raised as the practice of milk banking is expanding caused her to push for legislation protecting the providers of the milk, the facilities where it is used, and the babies being nourished by it.
“There is no disputing the valuable and indispensable work of milk banks in collecting this incredible life-enhancing resource from donors,” Baker stated.
The milk is used in neonatal units and is given to babies with medical issues who have been able to go home. These are medically fragile, at risk infants.
But Baker says quality control matters.
“Whenever there is growing demand for a product, there are those who will seek to take advantage,” she explained.
Many NICU moms also have difficulty providing all the nutrition their babies need, so the donated milk is essential for them as well.
“This measure is rooted in both pediatric health science and common sense,” Baker pointed out.
Prolacta Bioscience, the country’s leading hospital provider of human milk-based nutritional products, applauded the effort.
“This is a complex issue with life or death implications,” said COO Scott Eaker. “The donor milk banking industry is growing, which is wonderful because it means more human milk for the babies who need it most. But it also means oversight of the milk banks selling and distributing human milk products is needed.”
“Sen. Baker’s work was integral to the bill’s passage, and to the protection of the vulnerable babies, moms, and families who depend on this life-saving nutrition,” he added.
Women and men from both parties assisted in this successful effort, including Rep. Donna Oberlander whose bill made it to the governor for signature. The Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank in Pittsburgh was also instrumental in helping to advance the initiative.
With the new law, Pennsylvania leads the nation in ensuring the safety of human milk, and products derived from it, used to feed preterm infants.