The preterm birth rate in the United States has increased for the first time in eight years adversely affecting the health of the nation’s babies, according to the 2016 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card.  


Mothers’ Milk Bank (MMB), a Colorado-based program benefiting women and babies nationwide, safely screens, collects, processes, tests and dispenses donated human milk to more than 120 different hospital neo-natal intensive care units in 24 states. More than 90 percent of MMB’s milk donations go to help premature babies.


Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that 9.63 percent of babies were born prematurely in the United States in 2015, up from 9.57 percent in 2014. Preterm birth rates were nearly 48 percent higher among black women and more than 15 percent higher among American Indian/Alaska Native women compared to white women throughout the United States.  In Colorado, 8.7 percent of babies were born prematurely last year, up from 8.4 percent in 2014. Important development takes place in the final stages of pregnancy and premature babies often need human milk donations to survive.


The CDC defines premature births as those occurring at least three weeks before a baby’s due date. Premature babies often have severe health problems and endure extensive stays in hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units. Human milk provides premature babies with immune properties, growth factors, enzymes and other unique elements critical to their survival.


“Human milk is unparalleled, and it can be the key to a premature baby’s survival and overall health,” said Laraine Lockhart Borman, MMB director of outreach. “Human milk saves babies facing critical medical conditions and helps prevent long-term heath issues such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and asthma.”


The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization focused on the health of mothers and babies, has found that premature births have a high cost on society, including labor and delivery costs for the mother; medical and health care costs for the baby; and costs for early intervention and special education services for children with disabilities; among others.


“Many women don’t realize how much their milk can help,” Lockhart Borman said. “It takes only one ounce of human milk to feed a micro-preemie for one day in the hospital.  Our mission at Mothers’ Milk Bank is to provide human milk to every baby in need. We accomplish this with the help of thousands of wonderful donors across the country every year.”


If a baby is unable to take milk from the mother, donated milk from human milk banks approved by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, which MMB is a part of, is the next best choice. Each MMB donor is carefully screened and all donations are tested and pasteurized for safety while preserving essential nutrients babies need to thrive.


In 2015, MMB approved 1,361 new donors and pasteurized more than 695,000 ounces of donor human milk with plans to increase to 1,000,000 processed ounces in the next few years.


More than 9,000,000 ounces of milk are needed annually to meet the needs of preterm infants across the country. MMB welcomes donor milk from women throughout Colorado and most of the United States. Women interested in donating milk may fill out the donor screening form on MMB’s website at or call 303.869.1888.


You can also follow us on Facebook to learn more about human milk, milk banking and how to get involved with MMB.


About Mothers’ Milk Bank

A nonprofit program of Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation, Mothers' Milk Bank (MMB) screens, collects, processes, tests and provides donor human milk to babies across the country. Babies who receive the milk may be premature or have severe illnesses and need human milk to thrive. MMB consistently provides more milk to hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units than any other nonprofit milk bank in North America and adheres to the strict guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). For more information on MMB visit


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