The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in the US has opened the first human milk bank in the region for hospitalised infants.

Developed in cooperation with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), the CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank (MMB) offers donor human milk to infants at CHOP’s main campus.

HMBANA is an organisation that sets the standards and guidelines for nonprofit donor milk banking in North America.

The CHOP MMB is one of the only nonprofit milk banks located inside a freestanding children’s hospital in the US, and is the 18th HMBANA approved milk bank to open in the country and 21st in North America.

CHOP interim COO and Clinical Support Services senior vice-president Chad Hough said: "This is a great advancement for our families who have newborns or infants who are being cared for in the Newborn / Infant Intensive Care Unit.

"By being able to screen and approve donors on site as well as pasteurise the milk in-house it greatly enhances the family experience."

"Mothers who may not be able to nurse their child will now have faster access to some of the best medicine their baby can receive."

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Generally, human milk is the recommended form of nutrition for all infants, however, if a mother is unable to provide 100% of her child’s needs, CHOP has offered pasteurised donor human milk to serve as a bridge to the mother’s own milk since 2006.

CHOP noted that until recently, the donor milk used at the hospital was purchased from another HMBANA milk bank.

CHOP nurse researcher and director of lactation Diane Spatz said: "Our mothers are so dedicated to pumping milk for their children and because of the diligence and commitment to pumping, many families end up with a full freezer of milk that their child will not ever need. Knowing that they can help other vulnerable infants at CHOP is so meaningful.

"By being able to screen and approve donors on site as well as pasteurise the milk in-house it greatly enhances the family experience."

Each year, the mothers of CHOP patients donate on average of 22,000oz of milk to HMBANA milk banks.

In order to facilitate the donations and coordinate shipping the donated milk to Columbus, Ohio, CHOP has partnered with the Ohio Mothers’ Milk Bank.

With the opening of the CHOP MMB, the mothers of CHOP patients will now be able to directly donate their milk on-site.

The clinical teams at CHOP use pasteurised donor human milk for a variety of conditions, including prematurity, allergies, feeding intolerance, immunologic deficiencies, post-operative nutrition, treatment of some infectious diseases, and treatment of certain inborn errors of metabolism.

Donations to the CHOP MMB will be phased in three stages, with the first donors being CHOP inpatients’ own mothers, stage two includes donations from inpatients’ mothers and CHOP employees, and in stage three milk will be accepted from people in the community in the coming months.

Image: Dr Diane Spatz and her team open The CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank. Photo: PRNewsFoto / The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.