- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The first breast milk bank that will service the entire state is set to open in Pittsburgh in late summer or early fall.

The Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank, a nonprofit organization, will provide donated breast milk to babies in neonatal intensive-care units throughout Pennsylvania and Virginia when their mothers are unavailable. Some breast milk will be given to outpatient babies who can’t receive it from their mothers due to allergies or other problems, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1H0RPLA ).

The milk bank expects to distribute about 50,000 ounces, or 390 gallons, of breast milk its first year, said its president and founder, Denise O’Connor.

The organization has received $600,000 in donations to work toward a goal of eliminating the bad effects that occur when premature babies don’t receive human milk, she said. Donor milk that’s frozen and pasteurized doesn’t have the immunity-boosting benefits of fresh milk from babies’ mothers but is still recommended over formula.

Studies have shown that babies who receive human milk instead of formula have decreased rates of infection and shorter neonatal intensive-care unit stays.

Milk banks fund themselves by charging hospitals per ounce of milk, O’Connor said. They typically become self-sustaining after three years.

O’Connor said the screening of donors will involve brief telephone interviews, filling out detailed health questionnaires and drawing blood for testing similar to donations to blood banks.

There are 18 active milk banks in the U.S. and Canada and 10 banks in development, including one at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, https://www.post-gazette.com

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