Home' Southern Health News : December 2016 Contents Breast milk ‘bank’
coming to Flinders
BY JACQUIE VAN SANTEN
Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) is a partner
hospital in a Human Milk Bank pilot project
that has been set up by The Australian Red
Cross Blood Service.
The aim is to investigate the feasibility of
providing pasteurised donor human milk to
vulnerable hospitalised babies.
The bank – which will rely on donated breast
milk – will provide breast milk to babies
when their mother’s milk is unavailable or in
A workshop to help decide the top 10
questions for research into human milk
banking and the use of donor milk was
held at Flinders University last month. The
workshop attracted potential milk donors,
parents of preterm infants, healthcare
professionals and academics.
FMC neonatologist Dr Vanessa Ellison
said having donor human milk available in
Adelaide would be a great step forward for
parents and babies.
“Research tells us that human breast milk is
the best for baby, but not every mother is able
to supply breast milk to their baby. Whilst it’s
clear that human milk has distinct advantages
over artificial substitutes, this can be critical for
the outcome of pre-term infants less than 32
weeks gestation," Dr Ellison said.
“In these babies, the gut is so immature that
human milk can be lifesaving. For many babies
if donor milk was available it would be used
as an adjunct to their mothers own milk. It
would not replace the lactation education and
support given to the babies own mother.”
Dr Ellison said only six of Australia’s 24
Neonatal Intensive Units have access to
pasteurised donor breast milk. “South
Australia currently has none, so this is a very
important project," she said.
“The sharing of human milk has a long
history. Informal milk sharing does currently
occur in the community. There are risks with
this sharing of human breast milk in terms
of spreading bacteria and viruses. Having
a dedicated milk bank where safety is the
priority is the safest option, particularly if this
milk is going to be considered for vulnerable
BY TRACEY HUTTON
Flinders Medical Centre’s (FMC)
Neonatal Unit has seen plenty of
miracles in its time.
One of those miracles is Lauren Lorton who
34 years ago was born a tiny 970 grams and
had to fight for her life for more than 10 weeks
in the Neonatal Unit’s Intensive Care Unit.
This year she gave birth to her very own healthy
“Growing up, I remember feeling special and
was often reminded by others of how lucky I
was to have developed into a healthy baby after
being born premature,” Lauren said.
In the 1980s, babies under 28 weeks gestation
(1,000 grams) were considered to be at a high
risk of death or developing a disability.
Now, babies born weighing 1,000 grams
have better health outcomes and the survival
rate is much higher. Premature babies born at
around 22 to 23 weeks gestation (under 500
grams) are considered to be more at risk of
complications to their health.
Lauren’s family knows all too well how difficult
it is when babies arrive too early.
Not only did Lauren spend more than 10 weeks
in hospital, but her younger brother Liam also
spent seven weeks in the FMC Neonatal Unit.
“My mother Maureen still remembers being
cared for by the special nurses and doctors
at Flinders, especially Dr Peter Marshall
who helped deliver me in what was a very
complicated delivery,” she said.
When Lauren found out she was pregnant in
July 2015, she was nervous about her chances
of having a premature baby.
“I compared every stage of my pregnancy with
my mother’s, but while she was on bed rest at
32 weeks, my pregnancy journey was much
smoother in comparison,” she said.
Lauren gave birth to baby Mason at 39 weeks
in February 2016, weighing a healthy 3.3kg.
“I just thank my lucky stars that Mason was
born healthy, but I know if she had being born
early she would have been in good hands at
FMC,” Lauren said.
Families of premature babies recently came
together for the annual FMC Neonatal Unit
Christmas party at Mitchell Park Community
Centre. It was an opportunity for families to
catch up with nurses and doctors from the unit
and to celebrate Christmas with their miracle
FMC’s Neonatal Unit, which is headed up by Dr
Peter Marshall, provides life-saving care for
premature babies born in Adelaide’s south as
well as country areas and the Northern Territory.
“Working in the Neonatal Unit is incredibly
rewarding. You know you’ve done a good
job when you see your former little patients
and their families having fun and enjoying
Christmas celebrations together,” Dr Marshall
Lauren’s circle of life
Left to right: Midwife Charmaine
Peters, Lauren Lorton with baby
Mason and Dr Peter Marshall.
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / DECEMBER 2016 / 7
Dr Vanessa Ellison
checks on breast milk
supplies at FMC.
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