Breast milk supply program for NICU patients announced for Tampa’s BayCare Health System facilities

Tampa’s BayCare Health System has formed a partnership with Prolacta Bioscience, a life science company which specializes in fortified human milk, to guarantee its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients access to a safe and regular supply of standardized donor breast milk.

One of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States is prematurity. Florida’s premature birth rate in 2011 was 13 percent. The same year, Northeast Florida’s premature birth rate exceeded the state’s rate by .4 percent.

Breast milk is the best source of nutrients for babies born prematurely, it contains antibodies and hormones that help boost the developing immune system. Because mothers of premature babies often cannot provide a consistent supply of milk, donor milk is an important feeding solution.

Prolacta Bioscience will manage donations contributed to the BayCare Donor Milk Program by conducting quality testing and fortifying the milk with the right amount of calories and protein infants need for proper growth. There are 11 BayCare hospitals in the Tampa Bay area.

Tampa is the third city in Florida to have a community donor milk program, Orlando and Miami also have donor milk banks. Wolfson Children’s Hospital is the first health care facility in Northeast Florida to provide donated milk to its premature patients, but it receives milk from out-of-state milk banks operating under the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.