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New breast milk dispensary to serve Dayton area

Kettering Health Washington Township

Ohio’s second breast milk dispensary has opened in Dayton. This will give mothers a place to pick up breast milk or donate excess milk to babies in need.

The new dispensary is a partnership between OhioHealth Mothers' Milk Bank, one of the 30 milk banksin the United States, and the First Steps Breastfeeding Support Center at Kettering Health Washington Township.

“Sometimes there are little bumps in the road. This donor milk can help with that bridging.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendsexclusive breast milk until six months, followed by continued breastfeeding with complementary foods until babies are two years old or as long as the mother and baby desire. However, there are scenarios wherein a mother and baby need donor milk.

“If the mother had a cesarean section, or a long epidural labor, she might need that extra milk as she gets her volume up," said Katy Boyd, a lactation consultant with Kettering Health. "Also, if the baby is a little bit jaundiced or the weight loss is a little bit excessive, they might need a bit more milk.”

There are 29 milk drop sites across Ohio and interested donors go through a three step screening process with OhioHealth Mothers' Milk Bank. That includes a phone interview, a written health history questionnaire and blood tests for blood borne pathogens like HIV and hepatitis. After screening, the milk is pasteurized, frozen and distributed.

Chris Smith, the outreach and operations coordinator for the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank, said the pasteurization process is important to destroy bacteria that may have been present in the donor milk while preserving most of the nutritional components.

“We're a lot more stringent because a lot of our milk is going to premature babies who have no immune system,” Smith said. “Bacteria in milk could potentially be fatal to them.”

The donated milk is pasteurized, frozen and distributed through a prescription.
Kettering Health Washington Township
The donated milk is pasteurized, frozen and distributed through a prescription.

At the Kettering Health Washington Township dispensary, the pasteurized milk costs $16 per 3 oz bottle which includes the milk bank processing plus shipping and handling. Families can purchase it through a prescription from the baby’s doctor.

Kettering Health said there are instances where Medicaid will cover the cost, but parents have to get that approved through their insurance.

Through a grant from the Ohio Lactation Consultant Association, First Steps Breastfeeding Support Center will provide 78 bottles of pasteurized human donor milk to assist some families.

The dispensary also provides support to help moms increase their own milk supply through lactation consultants.

“Sometimes there are little bumps in the road. This donor milk can help with that bridging.” Boyd said.

Ngozi Cole is the Business and Economics Reporter for WYSO. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is a 2022 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow. Ngozi is from Freetown, Sierra Leone.