The United States Breastfeeding Committee just put out a press release for National Prematurity Awareness Month. Here are excerpts:
Washington, DC–When a baby is born premature, helping the baby survive is usually the first priority for new parents. The benefits of breastfeeding, including protection from many diseases, are especially critical for premature infants. As the country recognizes Prematurity Awareness Month, many are aware that more than a half million babies–one in every eight–are born prematurely each year in the United States. There is virtually universal agreement among health care experts that breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for all infants, including those who are born premature.
Research has shown that breastfeeding protects infants from illnesses such as ear infections, respiratory infections, and diarrhea, as well as chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and childhood leukemia. For preterm infants, studies have demonstrated that breast milk provides additional protection from life-threatening conditions that are more common in prematurity, including necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis, and pneumonia…
When mothers are unable or unwilling to provide their own milk, donor human milk is the ideal replacement. The use of donor human milk saves infant lives and positively impacts health outcomes of countless premature and sick infants through prevention of disease. Human milk banks in North America adhere to national guidelines for quality control of screening and testing of donors and pasteurize all milk before distribution. Fresh human milk from unscreened donors is not recommended because of the risk of transmission of infectious agents.
For information about donating or obtaining donor milk in the Madison area, you can contact the Mothers’ Milk Association of Wisconsin.