Demand for Donated Breast Milk Reaches Record Levels

There is currently a shortage of breast milk in the United States, causing suppliers to try and figure out how to keep up with the increasing demand.

The World Health Organization states that newborns should be breastfed for the first six months and then should have complementary breast feeding until the age of two or older.

For some young mothers who have premature babies, more than one child or other health issues that prevents them from breastfeeding, using donated breast milk is the only option.

Doctors have stated that breast milk is the best thing to feed to a newborn because of the nutrients and antibodies that are found in breast milk that helps the newborn grow.

It is also easy for babies to digest and helps protect the child from diseases, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office on Women's Health.

"We're just struggling to keep up … our freezers are empty, but the demand is skyrocketing. It's just exponentially growing, so it's imperative for us to find more milk," Pauline Sakamoto, executive director of Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), told USA Today.

Sakamoto said that the increased demand by doctors for breast milk- which is only available by prescription- is leading to the shortage. The HMBANA reported a 17 percent increase of milk dispensed from 2010 to 2011.

The facility takes in donated breast milk, freezes it and then ships it to hospitals around the country that use it for premature infants and other children whose mothers suffer from delayed lactation.

Doctors explained that one of the reasons breast milk is so highly sought after is due to the fact that it can help prevent certain medical conditions, including a bowel condition called Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC).

This ailment usually affects infants who have a very low birth weight or were born prematurely.