Kansas City has one of the region’s only milk banks along with hundreds of dedicated moms helping other moms when their babies need it most. There are twice as many milk banks in the United States today as there were in 2012, and Saint Luke’s Health System is home to the Heart of America Mother’s Milk Bank. “Our goal is to make this milk available to as many babies as possible across the country so that no baby should have to go without,” said MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist, Dr. Barbara Carr. “Back in 2009, we were looking at ways we can improve nutrition for the babies under our care in the NICU and we started researching use of donor milk and found that it was the most effective thing we could use for babies.” Oftentimes, when a baby is born prematurely, mothers have a tough time getting breastfeeding going either because the baby can’t physically do it yet or because her own milk simply hasn’t come in. “When we’re using human milk, those babies tolerate that feeding much better, so we’re able to get them off of the nutritional fluids that we have to use and get rid of the IV catheters sooner and, ultimately, make their hospital stays shorter. They’re healthier. Their immune systems are stronger, and if you believe some of the data, they’re smarter,” Carr said.
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