Apr 11, 2022 - Politics

New Florida law to make breast milk more accessible to babies in need

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Itty bitty Florida babies stand to benefit big from a new law that lets the state pay for donor human milk bank services as an optional Medicaid service.

Why it matters: More than half of Florida births are covered by Medicaid, according to the bill's sponsors. And while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months, breast milk is expensive.

  • Experts say the bill will reduce health care inequities for Florida's most vulnerable infants as access to human milk nutrition is increased.

Driving the news: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1770 late last week, authorizing Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration to pay for donor human milk bank services.

  • The donations will help infants who are "medically or physically unable to receive maternal breast milk or to breastfeed or whose mother is medically or physically unable to produce maternal breast milk or breastfeed."

Zoom in: At Mother's Milk Bank of Florida, human milk supply has been ample to meet the needs of hospitalized infants, while other cities across the country saw declines in donations during the pandemic.

What they're saying: Sandra Sullivan, a neonatologist and clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Neonatology at the University of Florida, tells Axios by email that she expects the new law to "slightly increase demand."

  • But Sullivan predicts supply will "remain stable or even increase, as awareness of the precious commodity may lead to increased donation."

She says the bill also provides reimbursement for donor milk-derived nutritional fortifiers, such as Prolacta.

  • That means NICUs won't have to rely on cow milk-based fortifiers, which is particularly important for premature babies who can benefit from the fat in human milk.

What's next: The law goes into effect July 1.


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