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'Human milk is a life-saving provision': Wyandotte County Health Department opens human milk donation site

Ashley Lause
Posted at 5:30 AM, Jun 10, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Wyandotte County Health Department opened a donation site for human milk on May 15 — it's the first health department in Kansas to do so.

Wyandotte County's Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program manager Ashley Lause says such donations are crucial for the community.

“Well, in Wyandotte County, we do have a lot of health disparities, in particular we have a high low-birth-weight percentage for our county," Lause said.

Health professionals say human milk can be life-saving, especially for preterm and low-birth-weight infants. Some lactating parents can not produce enough.

“Human milk is used in the NICU a lot to help these babies, so the more milk we get to donate to The Milk Bank here in Kansas, the more will come to Kansas babies," Lause said.

Wyandotte County partnered with The Milk Bank in Indiana.

The Milk Bank screens for healthy donors — "generally healthy, non-smoking breastfeeding parents who have extra milk" — and then receives donations, pasteurizes it and sends it off to its partners. The Milk Bank has partners in Kansas, Missouri and the Kansas City area.

The nutrients and immune support human milk provides in the first six months of life protects infants from many diseases — including asthma, childhood leukemia and respiratory infections, according to the University of Kansas Health System.

The University of Kansas Health System also serves as a donation site in Wyandotte County, where it sees the need for human milk.

Michelle Finn
Michelle Finn, University of Kansas Health System's Lactation Team Lead

“We have very high rates of SIDS," University of Kansas Health System Lactation Team Lead Michelle Finn said. "Breastfeeding is very protective in rates of SIDS, so it can have even a 50% reduction in risk of SIDS with that provision of exclusive breastfeeding for six months.”

The University of Kansas Health System partners with the Oklahoma Mothers' Milk Bank.

"We do primarily purchase donor milk from Oklahoma Mothers' Milk Bank since we partner with them as a depot," the health system said in a statement.

According to The Milk Bank, mortality rates for preterm and low-birth-weight infants can be reduced by 75% if an infant is solely fed human milk.

“Pasteurized donor milk is often the next best thing if mother’s own milk is not available in the volume that we need," Finn said.

To donate, you can visit The Milk Bank's milk donor pre-screen here or visit the Oklahoma Mothers' Milk Bank's donor criteria form here.

“I’m sure initially with blood banking that kinda weirded people out too, maybe, but it’s become very accepted and we know that it’s life-saving,” Finn said.