Ottawa

Mother wants donated breast milk from Toronto bank

An Ottawa mother, who can't breastfeed her six-week-old son, wants to be able to receive donated breast milk from a new Toronto milk bank set to open soon at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.

Provincial milk bank to provide donated breast milk to ill newborn babies at Ontario hospitals

Some parents want a new provincial breast milk bank to do more than provide donated breast milk to unhealthy babies, as it has proposed.

Ottawa mother Bojana Djordjevic is not able to breastfeed her six-week-old son Benjamin, so she wants a new Toronto milk bank to offer her pasteurized breast milk. (Karen Kelly/CBC)

The brand new provincial milk bank is set to open in January at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital in partnership with the Hospital for Sick Children and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

It will accept donated breast milk, pasteurize it and provide the milk to newborn babies in hospitals across Ontario who are born with a very low birth weight or if they have a serious bowel disorder.

But Ottawa mother Bojana Djordjevic says she believes healthy children should benefit, too, if a mother is unable to breastfeed.

Djordjevic is not able to breastfeed her six-week-old son Benjamin, so she buys it from a milk bank in Ohio. The Ottawa Hospital and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario also import their pasteurized milk from that same location.

"Just to get those precious antibodies in breast milk, and breast milk is more digestible than formula, so we just wanted to give him as good of a start in life as we possibly could," the mother said.

Healthy babies don't need donor breast milk, doctor says

One doctor who will work with the new milk bank said there is a temporary delay in getting milk from the U.S. — possibly because of short supply.That means the hospital has to be careful about who will benefit from the donated breast milk.

There is also no evidence, she says, that healthy babies need the pasteurized breast milk from a bank.

"The babies we deal with that are the beneficiary of this potential milk bank are extremely fragile, mostly premature babies," said Dr. Brigitte Lemyre, a neonatologist who specializes in caring for newborns at The Ottawa Hospital.

"There's no point in giving that to every baby because you want to give that to those who will benefit the most."

Ottawa hospitals will begin receiving breast milk from the Toronto facility in 2013.