Brooklyn Birthing Center and Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE) are pleased to announce the opening of a new human milk bank depot, located at Brooklyn Birthing Center in Brooklyn, New York.

A milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more milk than their babies need, then screens, pasteurizes, and tests the milk, and dispenses it primarily to premature and sick babies whose mothers do not have enough milk. The new milk depot, a donor milk collection site, is located at Brooklyn Birthing Center (2183 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, NY). Mothers from Brooklyn and beyond will now be able to drop off their milk at the depot for shipment to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.

“We are so honored to be part of this amazing program. Donor milk saves the lives of the most fragile of humans, and we applaud all of the wonderful women who so generously donate,” commented Adina Lerer, RN, IBCLC, Director of Lactation Services at Brooklyn Birthing Center. “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to collect milk from the women of Brooklyn and pass it along to protect our babies. Thank you, Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, for allowing us to be part of this process.”

Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., Executive Director of MMBNE, remarked, “We encourage mothers who have milk to share to consider donating it. The presence of a milk depot in Brooklyn will increase awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and donating milk. Donor mothers find the experience of donating very special, and we hope that the depot will provide an opportunity for mothers to network with one another about this unique, lifesaving gift.”

Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, physician approval, and blood test. These are some of the many measures taken to assure the safety of milk for the fragile premature and sick babies served by MMBNE and the hospitals who use the milk. Breast milk from mothers who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals or families.

Donor milk can be lifesaving for preterm infants. It is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which affects one in ten of the smallest preterm infants. Donor breast milk is estimated to lower the risk of this condition by 79%. It also lowers hospital costs by reducing costs for care and shortening hospital stays.

Donor milk is rapidly becoming the standard supplement to mothers’ milk for preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). This has led to greater demand for safe pasteurized donor human milk from nonprofit milk banks like MMBNE that are certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). MMBNE has been screening donors, pasteurizing milk, and dispensing to over 40 hospitals in 10 states plus the District of Columbia, and to families throughout the Northeastern United States, since 2011.

In New York alone, MMBNE provides milk to 12 hospitals, including three in New York City that have started offering donor milk within the past month— Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn and NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. Since 2012, 326 New York mothers have donated milk to MMBNE, including 35 from Brooklyn alone. The new depot will make it easier than ever for Brooklyn mothers to provide the lifesaving gift of donor milk.

Mothers who wish to donate milk can review guidelines on the Milk Bank website, www.milkbankne.org/donate, then contact a Donor Intake Coordinator for screening at 212-993-1566 or donate@milkbankne.org. Approved donors can then arrange to drop off milk at the new depot by e-mailing Rachel Anne Libon at rachelanne@brooklynbirthingcenter.com.