MOLINE, Illinois -- The Rock Island County Health Department reports that two out of five mothers with pre - mature babies are not able to breast feed. To help solve this growing problem, the department opened the first human milk depot in Northwest Illinois.
The breast milk donated at this depot will go to Neonatal Intensive Care Units and hospitals throughout Illinois and Wisconsin.
"Medically fragile kids need all the help they can get," Chief Operating Officer Janet Hill said. "When you're a stressed out mom with a baby in the hospital and you know that you cannot provide the breast milk that your baby needs, but the community can, that is a very comforting feeling to moms."
Hill said many mothers cannot breast feed due to sickness, medication use or other complications. The Rock Island County Health Department reports that babies born prematurely are six times more likely to develop infections than babies carried to full term. Hill said breast milk can help keep premature babies healthy.
The Rock Island County Health Department's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program will accept donations at the Moline Community Health Care clinic. Applications will be at the office. Donors are required to go through screening and the donated breast milk will be screened an additional two times before being shipped to the hospitals.
"I think it`s a great thing for the community to do," Lactation Specialist Hilary Knott said. "Just as if you were donating blood, you are really making a huge impact."