- World Breastfeeding Week concludes Monday, August 7
- Perth's milk bank, first in the nation, helps thousands of WA mums and preterm babies
Australia's first contemporary human milk bank at King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) has provided more than 8,500 litres of donor milk to babies born prematurely since it opened in 2006.
The Perron Rotary Express Milk Bank (PREM Bank) assists preterm mothers who may initially struggle to provide enough milk for their baby after delivering prematurely.
PREM Bank collects excess breast milk from healthy screened donors and processes it to ensure it is safe before making it available to infants in need.
The milk bank operates within KEMH's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is critically important for hospitalised preterm infants.
Although it is not a replacement for a mother's own milk, donor milk is recognised as a better alternative than formula milk.
The PREM Bank is now world-renowned in leading safe human milk banking practice, and manager Dr Ben Hartmann is developing a research program, with support from the UWA Centre for Neonatal Research and Education, to better understand the physiology of preterm milk production, and improve breastfeeding success for mothers who deliver preterm.
Research has shown that preterm babies who receive their own mother's milk, experience a reduced rate of life threatening complications such as neonatal sepsis, blood infections, and necrotising enterocolitis - a gastrointestinal disorder.
Researchers say a mother's breast milk is always the goal however, when not possible, or if delayed, some of the benefits of breast milk are still provided by pasteurised donor milk.
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and it is important to recognise this vital service, and the good work of Dr Hartmann and his team, and everyone at KEMH.
"Fortunately the PREM Bank has always been incredibly well-supported by local mothers in Perth, with many wanting to donate being turned away due to the high supply available most of the time."
Minister's office - 6552 6500