Ireland's only breast milk bank running short on supply

Ireland’s only breast milk bank is pleading for donations after warning its stock has only two weeks’ worth of milk left. The facility, which is run by the Western Health and Social Care Trust, serves every neonatal unit in the country, BBC News reported.

“For these tiny, tiny little ones — breast milk is liquid gold, it’s liquid medicine,” Ann McCrea, the bank’s manager, told BBC News. “It’s human milk that gets their gut primed, it’s human milk that fights any infections that they can get. It constantly changes to fight all the new infections that they’re liable to have.”

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The facility reportedly provided breast milk to more than 900 babies in 2016, with the majority of cases involving increasingly premature newborns. McCrea told the news outlet that there has been an uptick in the amount of 24- and 25-week-old babies benefitting from the donor program.

“The other thing is that there’s been a huge increase in the number of twins, triplets and quads that we’ve helped in the last year, and they take quite a lot of milk, obviously, because moms find it harder to produce enough milk for their babies,” she told BBC News.

McCrea said she hopes the shortage is temporary, and that all potential donors go through a screening process to ensure milk safety.

“We have to make sure that our milk is well screened, so the best quality, the safety milk, goes to our smallest, tiniest babies,” she told BBC News.