Feb 17, 2022 - News

Iowa milk bank seeks more donations amid U.S. shortage

A photo of breast milk donation processing.
A milk technician inspects bottles of donor breast milk after pasteurization. Photo courtesy of Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa

Milk banks across the U.S. are reporting donation shortages due in part to the recent Omicron wave and winter weather disrupting the supply chain.

Why it matters: Donated breast milk can help strengthen infants' immune systems and improve development, particularly for premature infants in intensive care units.

The big picture: Medical advancements in recent decades have allowed more children born with very low birth weights to survive.

  • A mother's ability to nurse can be delayed for days, especially for those who give birth prematurely.

State of play: Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa provides donated breast milk to babies in dozens of hospitals across the Midwest when their mother's milk isn't available.

  • The bank saw donors decline by more than 20% last year, according to data the organization shared with Axios.

By the numbers: There were 346 donors in 2020, a record in the Iowa bank's nearly 20-year history.

  • Last year's 269 donors are more in line with pre-pandemic levels, coordinator Heidi Baudhuin told Axios.
  • Baudhuin speculated that the spike could've been in part a result of more women working from home, which made pumping and donations easier.

What they're saying: Despite the drop last year, the Iowa bank is well-stocked to supply donations through the state, Baudhuin said.

  • Yes, but: Donations are still needed, particularly to help distribute to other states where supplies are short.

How to help: Potential donors can review prescreening information online or contact Baudhuin by email or phone at 319-384-9930.

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