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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 18, 2018 11:13 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker and Sen. Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Milk Bank Licensure

In the near future, we plan to reintroduce the “Keystone Mothers’ Milk Bank Act” from last session (SB 1263) that would regulate and license donor human milk banks in Pennsylvania. SB 1263 was cosponsored last session by Senators Brewster, Rafferty, Vulakovich, White, Yudichak, Tartaglione, Stefano, Costa, Bartolotta and Blake.

The regulation of donor milk banks and their operation is necessary to ensure the safety of this precious commodity and its effective distribution to children in need. We recognize that a mother’s own milk is the optimal nutrition for newborn infants and is a public health goal for the delivery of food to all infants, but many mothers face unique obstacles to producing enough milk for their own babies. When mother’s own milk is not available, donor human milk can provide a life-saving health benefit for high-risk infants as a supplement or bridge when determined to be medically necessary and physician-prescribed.

Donor milk is life-saving medicine for infants with very low birth weights of less than four pounds, preventing the onset of serious gastrointestinal problems that require surgery and entail hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs. Without donor milk, these health issues can continue throughout a child’s life. In addition, donor milk has been medically prescribed for children with heart problems and other compromising health care issues.

Moreover, there is anecdotal evidence, with additional research underway, that the use of donor milk can aid infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) when an opioid-addicted or recovering mother gives birth and cannot feasibly breast feed her baby. Based on a report issued by the Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), the rate of NAS in PA infants increased 1,096% over a recent sixteen year period, with an average hospital stay five times longer than all other newborn hospital stays. NAS carries a risk of multiple health complications, including low birth weight, prematurity, gastrointestinal problems and respiratory issues. The PHC4 Report states that PA Medical Assistance in 2017 “was the anticipated primary payer in 86.9% of NAS-related hospital stays, compared to 40.7% of all other newborn stays.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advocates for the use of donor human milk for medically fragile newborns when provided through properly regulated milk banks, where appropriate measures are used to screen donors, and collect, store, and process the milk for distribution.

This proposed legislation calls on the Pennsylvania Department of Health to license donor milk banks if they are in compliance with the act. Under the legislation, rigorous guidelines for the administration of donor milk banks are established, along with licensure fees and prohibited practices that preclude the direct or indirect sale of human milk by any entity not licensed in Pennsylvania.

Under the bill, the Department of Health will be required to prepare a biennial report that provides the number and location of licensed milk banks and a summary of the amount of donor milk donated, processed and distributed in the Commonwealth.

Research clearly demonstrates that donor milk reduces infant mortality and prevents long-term health complications for medically vulnerable children. This bill, therefore, serves to reduce overall health care costs, and more importantly, will be of immeasurable value to the children we vow to protect.

We hope you will join us in co-sponsoring this important measure.

Introduced as SB811