About Human Milk BankAbout Human Milk Banks
A human milk bank collects breast milk donations from mothers who produce more than their babies need,
pasteurizes and appropriately stores the donor milk in medical freezers,
and provides it to infants born extremely preterm or with very low birth weight in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) upon request.
There are more than 750 milk banks in 50 countries worldwide, and a number of them have been integrated into their respective countries’ national health systems.
- There are only two milk banks in Japan, The Nippon Foundation Human Milk Bank and
the Japan Human Milk Bank Association (as of March 2022).
In cooperation with the Japan Human Milk Bank Association, The Nippon Foundation Human Milk Bank is working to promote the milk bank system in Japan.
Why do babies need donor milk?Why do infants need donor milk?
However, in the case of premature birth, for an unknown reason, those babies cannot get breast milk from their mothers. In such cases, donor milk is used to bridge the gap until the infants can breastfeed.
Nowadays, premature babies weighing less than 1,000 grams at birth can be saved. Still, necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease in which one part of the intestine becomes necrotic, is a significant cause of death. The condition occurs at a higher rate in formula-fed newborns than those who are breastfed.
Donor milk plays a role in helping the intestines of infants born extremely preterm or with very low birth weight to mature as quickly as possible and ensure their lifelong health.
Donor milk can increase the immunity of premature infants and prevent diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis, chronic lung disease, and retinopathy of prematurity.
Donor milk can shorten the period of intravenous feeding and hospitalization and reduce the burden on newborns and their families.
Donor milk can provide better nutrition to premature babies and improve their long-term prognosis.
When do infants need donor milk?
The mother had a mental illness and was not willing to breastfeed.
The mother was compelled to stop breastfeeding due to infection.
The mother had cervical cancer and had to stop breastfeeding to start anti-cancer treatment.
The mother had low secretion due to an older first birth and a lack of breast milk for twins.
Our RoleOur Role
The Nippon Foundation Human Milk Bank is working to establish a system to provide appropriately pasteurized donor milk to 5,000 infants who need it every year in Japan. We also measure and analyze the nutritional value of donor milk and the amount of biologically active substances that are effective for tube feeding those infants, thereby establishing a research system that can provide tailor-made donor milk.
We will establish a system to stably supply pasteurized donor milk for the annual domestic needs of 5,000 infants born extremely preterm or with very low birth weight.
We will analyze the nutritional value of donor milk and the amount of biologically active substances that are effective for the tube feeding of extremely preterm or very low birth weight infants. Thereby we will establish a research system that can provide tailor-made donor milk.
To protect the lives of more babies, we will publicize the activities of the milk bank through our website and events.