Health district to open milk donors' depot Friday

Health district to open milk donors' depot Friday

CHAMPAIGN — Nursing mothers with extra milk to spare will have a convenient place to bring it, starting Friday.

That's when the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District's Milk Depot is set to open, with several donor moms expected to bring in breast milk for a christening ceremony at 10 a.m., according to Heather Ludwig, a nutritionist and lactation consultant for the health district.

Milk donations are going to the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank, which pasteurizes and distributes donor breast milk throughout the Midwest. Most of the milk goes to premature and ill babies in neonatal intensive care units, who have the greatest need for it, Ludwig said.

The health district's Milk Depot will be the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank's 35th drop-off site in five states, she said.

Donor moms who have been screened and approved can bring in fresh or frozen donor milk to Champaign's location — one of just three such drop-off sites in Illinois — and it will be shipped to the Indiana organization, Ludwig says.

The new freezer to store milk donations is at the health district's headquarters at 201 W. Kenyon Road, C, in the hallway on the way to the maternal and child health department, where most of the nursing and expectant mothers seeking services at the health district are, according to Ludwig.

"We could put it anywhere, and we decided to put it in a visible location," she said.

Moms who become milk donors will need to make appointments for milk drop-offs, because the milk will need to be checked in by a staff member, "because they have to be approved milk bank donors and we have to document that we are accepting the milk," she said.

There aren't any minimum or maximum milk donation amounts, and Ludwig said.

"They can bring milk every day if they want, if they don't have the freezer space," she added. "It's meant to be a convenience, so people are more likely to donate."

Moms note: Milk can be brought fresh or frozen, and will be shipped to the milk bank every three months, or when the freezer is 75 percent full, Ludwig said.

The health district hopes its new Milk Depot will inspire more breast milk drop-off sites and donors, according to Ludwig.

"We are hoping more people will realize this is available and this is something women can do, and how important this is for these babies, and more sites will pop up around the Central Illinois area," she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of life for the best health outcomes, but sometimes a mother's own milk isn't available for sick and premature babies in hospitals.

Health experts say breast milk can help avoid the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, a serious gastrointestinal disease for which premature babies are at increased risk.

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