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Research has determined that providing donor milk to a specific group of infants — preterm or very low birth weight babies — can protect them against life-threatening illnesses, serious infections and other complications related to preterm birth.

Doug Nicholson Not to be printed, broadcast or transmitted without the permission of MediaSource or its representatives.

Medically fragile, very low birth weight babies will soon have access to donated breastmilk, protecting them against serious illnesses and giving them a healthier start. The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is screening women who are interested in donating their breastmilk and is scheduled to begin dispensing donor milk in early 2013.

Women who wish to donate their breastmilk and make a difference in the lives of Ontario's most vulnerable babies can visit milkbankontario.ca to find more information about the screening process and eligibility requirements.

Sunnybrook has partnered with The Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital to collect donated breastmilk from lactating women, pasteurize it, and distribute it by prescription to medically fragile babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across Ontario. Sunnybrook's NICU cares for 20 percent of all infants in the province weighing less than three pounds.

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Clinical research was used to determine the need for babies to receive donor milk. Research has determined that providing donor milk to a specific group of infants — preterm or very low birth weight babies — can protect them against life-threatening illnesses such as necrotizing enterocolitis and potentially against serious infections and other complications related to preterm birth.

The Milk Bank has been developed by some of Canada's foremost experts in paediatrics and neonatology, including Dr. Shoo Lee, Medical Chief of Newborn and Developmental Paediatrics at Sunnybrook and Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health. The process for creating the Milk Bank included re-establishing regulatory approvals for donor milk banking and conducting research about the need for donor milk for very low birth weight babies. The safety and quality of human donor milk is the Milk Bank's top priority and it will meet or exceed all safety standards for human donor milk banking.

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