By Shirin Rajaee

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento area hospital is rolling out a unique alternative to standard donor breast milk.

Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael is providing the opportunity for parents with premature babies

“We’re able to advance feeds faster, get off of IV nutrition faster, and decrease complications,” said neonatal dietitian Laura Dennis.

Peering through the glass window of her newborn baby’s NICU bed, mother Natasha Khon of Woodland is anxious to see how her little girl is doing.

“I’m anxious; every time she cries you want to help her; she’s so tiny,” she said.

Khon’s baby was born premature two months before the expected due date.

“We did not expect it, it was a regular check-up, that lead to a delivery,” said Khon.

Mercy San Juan Medical Center was able to provide human breast milk for the baby within 24 hours of her birth, and not just your typical donated milk from your standard breast milk bank, but the milk was pasteurized.

“It’s pasteurized, so it makes me feel much better,” said Khon.

“She needs to put on the calories and weight cause she’s so small, so we’re happy they have this option here,” said father Joe Kohn.

When it comes to donor breast milk, the neonatal intensive care unit uses the products and services of a company called Prolacta.

“Definitely unique to our region, we’re the first NICU to use an exclusive human milk diet for premature babies under 28 weeks,” said dietician Laura Dennis.

The milk undergoes a series of safety screenings.

“They test for substances of abuse that other milk banks don’t test for, they test for nicotine, marijuana, opioids, and other drugs that could definitely have an effect on the development of our infants,” said Dennis.

And they also use DNA matching technology to ensure mothers are getting milk that’s the safest fit for their babies.

“They do DNA matching so they make sure the milk that’s donated, comes from that mother that was medically screened,” said Dennis.

Also, in addition to the human milk, there’s a human milk additive with calories and protein to optimize growth.

“The concentrated additive really supports their baby, and minimizes their complications,” said Dennis.

And minimizing complications is the big hope for parents like Natasha and Joe.

“I’m just hoping she’s healthy and we can take her home,” said Kohn.

Mercy San Juan has been providing the opportunity for parents for a little under a year and Dennis says feeding preemies exclusively human breast milk in this way has proven to provide good outcomes.

Shirin Rajaee


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