Many mothers of premature babies are unable to produce enough breast milk to feed their infants immediately after birth. Traditionally, NICU nurses have fed premature infants using formula, but research outlining the lifesaving benefits of human milk consumption has encouraged the use of donated breast milk. A network of 23 nonprofit human milk banks located throughout the U.S. is working to provide tiny patients with “liquid gold” nutrition. According to unpublished data from the CDC, “the percentage of advanced neonatal care hospitals across the country that provide donated breast milk has nearly doubled, from 22 percent in 2011 to nearly 40 percent in 2015.” However, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against informal milk sharing because of risks of bacterial or viral contamination, or exposure to other substances.
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