California town has breast milk bank - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

California town has breast milk bank

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September 7, 2006
by Marianne Favro

Palo Alto, Ca  -- When mothers can't nurse, milk banks offer donated breast milk to babies.  And this donated milk is saving the lives of thousands of little lives.  

Milk does a body good. Just ask baby Milo. He was born prematurely and weighed just five pounds. And now he's thriving. He has a very strong will to live and when he's hungry he wants his milk now.  

Even if it isn't his mother's. Milo is adopted, but his mom was determined to feed her son breast milk. She could finally stop her search here, at Mother's Milk Bank in San Jose.

Christine credits the milk for Milo's growth spurt. "His little thighs are humongous at this point, I see his gaze he's very alert now and focused."

Studies show breast milk is improves digestion, brain development and growth in babies. But the safety of donated milk is crucial when you don't know the donor. The mothers milk bank screens each donor and tests their blood.

The milk is then heat treated. "It will kill the HIV virus if the virus is in the milk," says Pauline Sakamoto R.N., Mother's Milk Bank Executive Director.

The bank requires mothers have a prescription. And while some Internet providers may offer breast milk without one, Sakamoto cautions about ordering online.   "One of the things that concerns me through the Internet is you don't know where, who the source is and you don't know whether the individual, maybe the donor was a potential donor to us and we turned her down,"  says Sakamoto.

Christine said she's comforted her son is drinking milk from a reliable source. And thankful to the women who've given her child this gift.

Each year the bank helps feed 500 babies. Some are foster children, others have mothers with HIV or moms who can't produce breast milk.