University Health System is starting a milk bank, similar to a blood bank, to help premature babies whose mothers cannot supply the needed breast milk, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  “The milk is tested for a number of things, from HIV to Hepatitis B and C, said Leni Kirkman, Vice President of Communications for the hospital system.


  A growing body of research shows that human milk, not formula, is the best source of nutrition for premature babies.


  Mothers who have extra breast milk can donate it, and it is then pasteurized and sent to the hospital’s neo natal units..


  “Human milk is the best source of nutrition for newborn babies, and this program will provide these tiny babies with a chance to get that form of nutrition,” Kirkman said.


  There is also a concern that feeding cow’s milk to babies increases the chances of developing a devastating disease called necrotizing enterocolitis, she said.  That can lead to death.


  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that premature babies should receive only human milk.


  “Growing evidence supports the role of donated human milk in assisting infants with special needs, such as infants in newborn intensive care units who are unable to receive their own mothers’ milk,” the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement.