Need: Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across the state of South Carolina were purchasing breast milk from out-of-state milk banks for preterm infants.
Intervention: The Mother's Milk Bank of South Carolina (MMBSC) opened 26 sites in South Carolina for breast milk to be donated, safely pasteurized, and delivered to NICUs across the state.
Results: Over 19,178,739 ounces of milk have been donated to MMBSC depot sites and over 13,830,600 ounces of milk have been delivered to South Carolina NICUs.
Breast milk is
recommended by the National Institute of Health for
healthy infant growth and protection against infections.
In situations where infants are born prematurely or do
not have a source of milk,
donor breast milk is considered safe when the
appropriate measures are taken to collect, store, and
pasteurize, according to the American Academy of
Pediatrics. There are risks involved in sharing
unpasteurized milk, such as contamination and exposures
to medication, drugs, or herbs.
Milk Bank of South Carolina (MMBSC) now manages 26
drop-off sites or "depots" located throughout the state,
two of which are in the rural towns of Beaufort and
Murrells Inlet. MMBSC safely pasteurizes donated breast
milk to supply partnering NICUs in South Carolina at a
Each milk depot includes at least one coordinator
(recruits and communicates with donors, manages sites), a
milk preparation technician (pasteurizes, screens, and
distributes milk) and a medical director (oversees
MMBSC currently has contracts with 12 South Carolina
hospitals to provide neonatal infants with a milk supply
for $4 an ounce and no charge to the patients' families.
MMBSC opened with $196,000 in donations from 17
organizations across the state.
To ensure the safety of donated breast milk, MMBSC
follows strict screening, processing, and dispensing
guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association
of North America (HMBANA), a professional
organization that supports nonprofit human milk banking.
MMBSC walks donors through a process that includes
completing a phone screening, clearance from the mother's
obstetrician and her baby's pediatrician, and a
complimentary blood draw to test for HIV, HTLV, hepatitis
B and C, and syphilis.
After the mother is cleared as a safe donor, the donated
milk goes through the following steps before it is safe
Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the state
administer the donated milk to premature infants weighing
3.3 pounds or less. These babies are fed a standard of 8
ounces of donated milk per day.
In the first two years since the Milk Bank's opening,
partnering hospitals saved $86,911 in donor milk
Other results include:
Over 19,178,739 ounces of breast milk have been
donated to depot sites.
Over 13,830,600 ounces of milk have been delivered to
South Carolina NICUs.
MMBSC has approved 1,076 donors with 140 currently
An average of 1,412 ounces of
pasteurized donor milk is delivered to hospitals each
The following explain more about South Carolina's preterm
birth dilemma and how MMBSC is helping preterm infants
and hospital NICUs:
Accredited by the HMBANA, MMBSC has closely followed
their guidelines and recommends other milk banks do the
same. A mentor from HMBANA offered guidance to help MMBSC
become fully operational through the following steps:
Make sure the community already offers support for
breast feeding, there is an adequate amount of interest
from mothers to donate their breast milk, and NICUs in
the state can benefit from the donations.
Find a building that can house a milk depot.
Purchase an adequate amount of freezers to keep the
incoming milk frozen.
Use the appropriate pasteurizing standards, such as
the Holder Pasteurization Method.
Use a secure, electronic and manual filing system to
keep all donor records organized and private.
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.