Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Health News

Got Milk?

Breast Milk Bank ships first batches to Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian  

Released by Fraser Health Authority


oday the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank sent the first regular shipment of human donor milk to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Royal Columbian Hospital.


These shipments mark the completion of the first phase of a provincial initiative to expand the capacity of the Provincial Milk Bank to support BC’s tiniest, most vulnerable babies with safe, regulated donor human milk.

For sick and premature babies, the early days of life can be tough as they are at high risk for infection and complications. Milk from a baby’s mother is always the first choice, but new mothers may face challenges that prevent them from providing their own milk or breastfeeding.

“The collaboration between the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank and Fraser Health is a part of the great work being done across BC to help ensure pre-term and critically-ill babies and their families receive the care they need. The continued expansion of the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank will help bring us closer to the goal of one day providing donor human milk to NICUs province-wide,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.

When mother’s own milk is not available, pasteurized donor human milk is the next best option. Similar to mother’s own milk, pasteurized donor human milk has active beneficial properties, and provides babies with antibodies to fight disease and infection. The importance of having safe, pasteurized milk available to these mothers and babies is critical to the healthy development of children.


“The goal of the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank is to provide all sick babies in BC with timely access to safe, regulated donor human milk. In the past, this demand has been difficult to meet but now families will have expanded access to safe, pasteurized donor human milk,” said Frances Jones, Coordinator of the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank Hospital and Health Centre.

The demand for pasteurized donor human milk continuously exceeds supply, and the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank and Fraser Health are always looking for healthy mothers who have more breast milk than they need for their own baby.

Mothers who want to give milk to babies in need can collect and freeze their milk, complete screening and drop it off at a milk collection depot. Over the past year, Fraser Health has established milk collection depots at all of its public health units and has been transporting donated breast milk to the Milk Bank from the communities of Abbotsford, Agassiz, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Cloverdale, Delta North, Delta South, Guildford, Hope, Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, Newport, Newton, New Westminster, North Surrey and White Rock.

“Fraser Health has operated Milk Collection Depots at a limited number of sites for several years however the recent expansion of the Vancouver Milk Bank coupled with our concerted work to expand milk collection to all 17 of our health units will now bring more donor milk to the Milk Bank making it possible for us to dispense pasteurized donor milk in our NICUs,” Loraine Jenkins, Executive Director Maternal Infant Child Youth, Fraser Health.

Milk donated to these depots is stored and transported to the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank where it is pasteurized. Pasteurized milk is then shipped to the NICUs at Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial Hospitals.


This collaboration between the BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank and Fraser Health began in 2013, when the BC Ministry of Health announced a government grant of $650,000 to the BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre Foundation to support the expansion of the Milk Bank as a provincial service. This funding has enabled renovations and the purchase of new equipment and technology in the Milk Bank to support a significant increase in capacity. The next phase will be for the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank to form similar partnerships with other health authorities, with the long-term goal of supplying milk to all the NICUs across BC.

More information about becoming a milk donor and the screening process is available at www.bcwomensmilkbank.ca.


Quick Facts
• BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre operates the original and longest standing hospital-based donor human milk bank in Canada—this year marks our 41st Anniversary—and is one of only 18 non-profit milk banks in North America.
• The Provincial Milk Bank at BC Women’s currently distributes donor human milk to more than 2,800 critically-ill infants and children each year.
• Last year (Fiscal 2013-2014) the Provincial Milk Bank at BC Women’s processed 80,000 ounces of donated breast milk, in large part provided by women in Fraser Health communities.
• Human milk is the optimum source of nutrition for all babies, particularly infants with significant health issues, with benefits that include improved growth, immune function and development.

• More than 40,000 women give birth each year in BC, and approximately 5 per cent of those babies are born premature. Premature babies often have compromised immune systems, stomach conditions or other health issues that place these infants at increased risk for infections and other conditions.
• While the majority of full-term babies can tolerate infant formula, the underdeveloped stomachs and intestines of premature babies are vulnerable.


About the BC Provincial Milk Bank

The BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank, located at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC, Canada has operated continuously since 1974 and is a founding member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).

During its years of operation it has helped thousands of babies and children, screened over 4,000 donors, and processed approximately 43,000 litres (1.5 million ounces) of milk. The need for milk continues to increase, so new donors are always welcome.

BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre is the province’s only facility dedicated to the health of women, newborns and families. It is one of the country’s busiest maternity centres, delivering more than 7,000 babies annually, and serves as the provincial resource for high-risk maternity care, as well as the most highly-specialized centre for the largest neonatal intensive care unit in BC. More than 50,000 women are seen annually through its specialized women and family programs, which include world-class services in medical genetics, HIV care, reproductive health, maternal substance dependency, osteoporosis and complex chronic diseases.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca.

About Fraser Health
Fraser Health provides a wide range of integrated health care services to more than 1.7 million people living in communities stretching from Burnaby to Hope. Our quality health care services range from acute care hospitals to community-based residential, home health, mental health and public health services. As one of Canada's largest health authorities, with over 22,000 employees, 2,500 physicians and nearly 6,500 volunteers, all intent on ensuring that when you need us, we'll be there for you. We are proud of the innovation, commitment, professionalism and tenacity of our physicians, employees and volunteers. More than any building, technology or program, it's our people who make Fraser Health distinct

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