Ohio Hospital to Open Breast Milk Bank

Monday, August 9th 2004, 10:21 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A 3-pound baby boy born prematurely at Grant Medical Center lacked the reflexes to nurse from his mother, who was also struggling to produce milk.

Little Tristan Casto needed the enzymes and hormones found only in human milk to ward off infection and to grow bigger and healthier. The hospital had frozen milk shipped from a Texas milk bank, which was fed to Tristan through a stomach tube. He is now healthy, his mother said.

Soon, Grant Medical Center plans to have the state's first milk bank, so milk won't need to be shipped frozen, overnight from other states for babies like Tristan.

The Mothers' Milk Bank of Central Ohio will process, screen and distribute the milk. Besides helping premature babies, doctors say milk banks are also helpful for mothers trying to feed multiples, like twins or triplets.

The practice of donating milk is decades old, but officials said donations declined in the last 20 years, partially because of fear of AIDS. Strict precautions and rigorous screening have sent donations climbing again.

The donated milk is heated to kill bacteria or viruses. Then it is pasteurized, frozen and dispensed. It can be stored frozen for a year.

The Columbus Foundation supplied a $55,000 grant for the milk bank. The total cost of the equipment and facility is around $75,000.

Staffing and operations will cost an additional $250,000 a year.

Hospital officials said it's worth it.

``The demand has increased significantly enough that we need one in the Midwest,'' said Dr. Craig W. Anderson, medical director of Grant's neonatal intensive-care unit.

There are seven milk banks in the United States and Canada. The bank in Ohio is scheduled to open by the end of the year.