The 411 on Donor Human Milk in Saskatchewan
Natalie Millar, RD
Saskatchewan assists with the collection of milk from NorthernStar Mother’s Milk Bank (NMMB) in Calgary donors and also purchases pasteurized donor human milk for the NICUs in the province. NMMB is a not for profit community milk bank operating as a charity to deliver pasteurized donor human milk to 38 communities across the country. The milk is triaged for sick and fragile preterm infants but currently 10-15% of all donated milk is used by families in the community.
What Milk Banks Do
- Milk banks screen potential donors with excess milk through a verbal screen, a medical history and lifestyle questionnaire, forms completed by their health care professional, blood tests (HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and Human T-lymphotropic virus), and frequent communication.
- Approved donors send their excess frozen milk and the milk bank handles pasteurizing, testing and dispensing. The donor human milk is pasteurized using the Holder Method. Pasteurization eliminates bacteria while retaining the majority of human milk's beneficial components.
- Milk is poured in bottles, frozen and dispensed.
Benefits of Pasteurized Donor Human Milk
- In preterm infants, the use of human milk is associated with a decreased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis, retinopathy of prematurity, feeding intolerance and diarrhea. Its use promotes the growth and maturation of the digestive tract and decreases the length of stay in hospital.
- In infants not in the neonatal intensive care unit, the use of human milk is associated with decreased incidence of upper respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal illness and food allergies.
Clients interested in Becoming a Human Milk Donor
- More information is available here: http://www.northernstarmilkbank.ca/give-donate/
- Potential donors must complete verbal and written questionnaires, have their family physician complete paper work, and submit results from a blood test.
Saskatchewan Milk Drops
Milk drops are locations approved by NMMB as collection sites for donor human milk. Approved donors may drop off their frozen milk at any of the following Saskatchewan locations:
Regina General Hospital Milk Drop 1440 14th Avenue 306-766-6161
Saskatoon Milk Drop City Centre Family Physicians 306-244-3016
Yorkton Milk Drop Yorkton Regional Health Center 306-786-0886
Northern Star Mothers Milk Bank
Canadian Pediatric Society Position
How can clients access donor milk for their babies?
Families require a prescription from a midwife, nurse, or physician before calling NMMB and placing an order. Clients will be charged per bottle and for shipping.
Informal Milk Sharing
There are various online/Facebook groups active in Saskatchewan including Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets where families can post their need and be connected with a family who has a surplus of breast milk. There are no assurances regarding the proper and safe expression, storage, handling and transport of informally shared breast milk which can lead to potential for milk to be contaminated with viruses or bacteria or to contain trace amounts of prescription and non-prescription drugs.