Dupont Hospital will offer families who prefer to provide their infants human milk a new option, starting next week.
The hospital, part of Lutheran Health Network, on Monday will become Allen County's first Donor Milk Express, or DMX, site. The Milk Bank's program allows families to buy up to 40 ounces of pasteurized donor human milk without a prescription.
The program “allows parents of healthy newborns to supplement with human milk instead of formula, providing babies with a healthy start and parents with peace of mind,” according to a Tuesday news release. “DMX is available to help bridge the gap between leaving the hospital and a successful breastfeeding routine.”
Maintaining breast milk exclusive feedings is vital for infant health, Dupont Hospital nurse Sarah Wall said in a statement.
“The DMX at Dupont Hospital will not only serve the mothers that deliver here, but will also be a great service throughout the region for the provision of breast milk when it is needed to bridge the gap until mom's milk supply is established,” Wall said.
Next to their mothers' own milk, pasteurized donor human milk is the safest option for infants, including premature and fragile babies, the news release said, citing research.
Breast-fed babies have fewer illnesses, and their rates of ear infections, respiratory problems, asthma and allergies are lower, according to the American Pregnancy Association, which suggests a “strong connection between breastfeeding and a healthy immune system.”
“Donated breast milk is very safe; it comes from mothers that have pumped more milk than their own baby can eat,” the association website says. “Before mothers can donate milk, they are tested for any illness that could pass through their breast milk. Each container of milk is also tested for harmful bacteria. The donor milk is then pasteurized to eliminate any infecting organism that could be present in the milk.”
The Milk Bank collects raw breast milk donations from hundreds of approved donor mothers; tests and pasteurizes the milk in batches; and ships bottles of frozen pasteurized donor human milk to hospital neonatal intensive care units, outpatients and DMX locations.
The Milk Bank was established in 2005 to improve health outcomes for premature and ill infants and decrease health care expenditures. It bills itself as the first and only donor human milk bank in Indiana but is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
Jenny Pemberton, director of communications for the Milk Bank, said the organization had an existing relationship with Dupont Hospital, which made it a “natural fit” when considering a Fort Wayne-area location.
Other locations are not planned, but the bank is “open to talking with interested parties,” Pemberton said by email. “We'd love to expand this program not only statewide, but throughout our entire footprint, which includes Kentucky and southern Illinois.”
A Milk Express site is also at Goshen Health Hospital in Goshen, along with three other existing sites in the Indianapolis area.
Express site details
• The location: The Donor Milk Express site will be at Dupont Hospital's Dupont Resource Center, 2514 E Dupont Road, Suite 210.
• The process: Parents interested in acquiring the milk should visit themilkbank.org/dmx to complete a purchase order form. If families are interested in buying more than 40 ounces, they may consider becoming an outpatient.