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Baby formula shortage highlights benefits of human milk banking

Quoted: Donated milk is a safe and nutritious formula alternative for families who aren’t able to supply their own milk, according to Dr. Anne Eglash, a clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Eglash has long been a proponent of breastfeeding through her medical practice at UW Health, where she leads the healthcare system’s lactation clinic.

“We know that in the short-term, using donor milk for premature infants is a game-changer,” Eglash said. Donor milk helps stave off a type of gut inflammation that commonly affects infants born prematurely called necrotizing enterocolitis. The condition can lead to tissue death, forcing doctors to remove a large part of the baby’s intestinal tract.

“That has a huge impact on growth and development,” Eglash said, adding that when mother’s milk is unavailable, donor milk can also play a role in preventing other negative outcomes common among premature infants, including eye and lung disease and sepsis.