Breast feeding is the gold standard for feeding babies. This might not be surprising for most of you, although the rates of exclusive breast feeding in the UK are low. But have you ever heard of human milk banking? The UK Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB) does an incredible job in providing safe and screened donor breast milk all over the country through 16 donor milk banks, mostly to preterm babies whose mothers cannot provide sufficient breast milk. Feeding human donor milk instead of formula milk is for example associated with a lower risk for the severe gut infection necrotising enterocolitis.
Breast milk and donor milk also contain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for brain and visual development in early infancy. However, research based at BU has identified that the current intake levels of preterm infants are too low to match the in utero accretion rates. Therefore, the aim of my PhD project at BU is to investigate approaches to increase the intake of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in preterm babies to improve their outcomes. One aspect I will be looking at is the intake from donor milk. Therefore, I was invited by the UK Association for Milk Banking to give a short presentation about my research at their annual training day in June.
I am looking forward to meeting donor milk bank staff and other researchers in the field of human milk banking at this day. I will post more details after the event. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to find out more about human milk banking in the UK or want to become a milk donor visit UKAMB’s website at http://www.ukamb.org/.