All over the state, there are newborns that desperately need breast milk, but for a multitude of reasons, their mothers cannot provide it. Now, any mother who has milk to spare can help these infants. New York Milk Bank is a reliable and certified non-profit organization to help bring milk to the babies that need it so much. New York Milk Bank will be at the New York Baby Show on May 14th and May 15th, at Pier 92.
The nation’s biggest show for expectant and new families, the New York Baby Show is a wonderful family-friendly mega-event featuring everything to do with maternity, baby, and toddler. From top products to trusted parenting experts, the New York Baby Show welcomes thousands of expectant and new parents from New York City, the Tri-State area, and beyond!
Tickets to the New York Baby Show are $30 per family, and $20 per individual.
We spoke with Dr. Katharine Kelter, licensed pediatrician and Secretary of the New York Milk Bank, to learn more.
For someone unfamiliar with the New York Milk Bank, how would you describe the company’s mission and core offerings?
The New York Milk Bank is dedicated to improving the health and survival of infants in need by providing them with safely pasteurized donor human milk when their own mother’s milk is unavailable or insufficient. Newborns, especially premature infants, who receive an exclusive human milk diet have fewer potentially life-threatening infections, improved long term neurodevelopmental outcomes and decreased rates of chronic disease including asthma, diabetes and cancer. However, not all women are able to produce enough milk for their own infants, especially those delivering prematurely who may have medical problems themselves. When a mother’s own milk is unavailable, medical professionals (including major health organizations such as WHO and the US Surgeon General) recommend infants receive pasteurized donor human milk. Potential donors are taken through a thorough screening process including verbal and written questionnaires and a blood test for HIV and other infectious diseases. Once approved, donors can ship their frozen milk or drop it at one of several milk collection depots across the state. The milk is pasteurized to kill bacteria and viruses, and then tested to ensure it is free from bacteria. Once testing is complete, the milk is distributed to neonatal intensive care units to feed the most at-risk infants. If surplus milk is available, it can be distributed to healthy full-term infants in need. Part of the NYMB mission is to reduce health disparities by providing safely pasteurized donor milk to all infants in need by improving access to, and reimbursement for, donor milk across NY State.
What is the background of the New York Milk Bank? When did it start and how has it evolved since then?
The New York Milk Bank has been a labor of love since 2009 when our Executive Director, Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, FNP, IBCLC, first realized that human donor milk was urgently needed in New York. Since that time, Julie has compiled a working board of four key volunteers who bring their experience and expertise in infant health care and nutrition to milk banking. Additionally, Julie invited various individuals who are leaders in the fields of breastfeeding, pediatrics and neonatology to make up the NYMB’s Medical Advisory Board. The New York Milk Bank has worked tirelessly to establish a presence in our community by setting up milk depots (drop off sites) across New York State to make it more convenient for approved donor mothers to donate their extra milk. The milk bank is in the process of accreditation by The Human Milk Banking Association of North America and is licensed by the New York State Department of Health. The New York Milk Bank will be located just north of New York City in lower Westchester in the town of Hastings on Hudson.
What are the most popular and/or newest services and products from the New York Milk Bank?
The New York Milk Bank is just 20 minutes from the Bronx, 45 minutes from midtown Manhattan and Queens, an hour from Brooklyn and Staten Island, and two hours from Suffolk County, Long Island and Albany. The milk bank’s proximity to the New York Metro area allows for same day delivery of donor milk to hospitals and perinatal centers, thereby lowering the overall cost of human donor milk and making it readily available when needed.
What sets New York Milk Bank apart from other milk storage and banking companies?
The New York Milk Bank is a 501(c)3 non-profit milk bank and does not make money from the sale of donated milk. Donor mothers who donate to a non-profit milk bank find comfort and pride in knowing that they are providing life-saving milk to babies in need. Additionally, New York mothers can be confident they are helping New York babies when they donate to The New York Milk Bank – when mothers donate to out-of-state milk banks the pasteurized milk is most likely not returned to New York. Approximately one in 10 babies is born prematurely each year in New York and premature birth is a leading cause of infant deaths. As mentioned above, pasteurized donor human milk is lifesaving for premature babies. Conversely, milk donated via informal online milk-sharing is not formally screened, pasteurized or tested and therefore is unsafe for premature and medically fragile infants. Parents of at risk infants can be reassured that the milk their infants receive is safe, and donors can feel reassured that they are helping the most at-risk infants by donating to a HMBANA member nonprofit milk bank.
What can parents expect from the New York Milk Bank at the New York Baby Show?
The New York Milk Bank will provide information on how and where a mother can donate her extra milk or how to obtain pasteurized milk for an infant in need. We will have information about our area milk depots and the screening process. The New York Milk Bank will host a free raffle of a New Mother’s Breastfeeding Box. This gift is provided by The Upper Breast Side and includes breast pads, creams and ointments, milk storage bags, and a nursing bra.
To find out more, check out nymilkbank.org