New milk bank ensures best start for premature babies in Queensland

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

Premature babies across Queensland will get live-saving access to breast milk, with a new Australian Government-funded milk bank opening in Brisbane to supply donor human milk to hospitals across the state.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said human milk was proven to lead to better health outcomes for premature and sick babies who couldn’t breastfeed.

“Without breast milk, premature babies spend longer in hospital and are at greater risk of infection and sepsis,” Minister Hunt said.

“They are also at great risk of contracting necrotising enterocolitis, a disease that has a tragically high mortality rate.

“Human milk banks collect, screen, process, and distribute donated human milk as a better alternative to infant formula for premature babies. It is estimated that the demand for human donor milk for premature babies is around 7,600 litres per year across the country.”

As part of the 2019-20 Budget, the Australian Government provided $2.0 million to Lifeblood to expand its coordinated network of donor human milk banks.

Federal Member for Brisbane, Trevor Evans, welcomed the opening of the milk bank and Australian Red Cross Lifeblood’s commitment to Queensland infants.

“Lifeblood – in collaboration with the Queensland Milk Bank – has established the facility six months ahead of schedule,” Mr Evans said.

“Babies across a network of 19 Queensland hospitals are already receiving life giving human milk that is protecting their wellbeing.

“But that is only one part of the important work of the milk bank. The new Brisbane facility will also allow our leading scientists to undertake innovative research into new therapeutic applications using the bioactive compounds in milk.

“This work will develop new products to help premature and sick babies thrive.”

Lifeblood now supplies pasteurised donor human milk to 30 hospitals across four states. With funding provided by the Australian Government, Lifeblood is on track to deliver the goal that – within the next 18 months – all premature babies in Australian Neonatal Intensive Care Units requiring donor human milk have access.

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