Parents of premature babies, listen up: New guidelines in New York's budget will likely make your lives a little bit easier. Thanks to recent Medicaid-directed legislation, donor milk is now available to low-income New York mothers who have premature babies, which is a huge win for everyone. Giving donor milk to premature babies prevents helps prevent disease later on, keeping babies safer and healthcare costs lower in the long run.
Premature babies are at high risk of contracting Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) — a disease where "intestinal tissue become[s] damaged and begins to die." Sixty to 80 percent of NEC cases occur in premature babies. One way to help prevent NEC? A diet comprised solely of breast milk, researchers have found. Thus, you can see why it's so important for premature babies to have access to all the breast milk they need to survive.
In a press release regarding New York's game-changing news, Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, the executive director of The New York Milk Bank shared with Public News Service that "for every six babies that you treat with donor milk, you save one incidence of NEC," stressing that "it's definitely cost effective for them to prevent this disease." It costs around $3,200 to provide each baby with donor milk, compared to the estimated $350,000 cost of treating NEC, so why not cut out all that risk?
Currently, insurance companies aren't required to cover donor milk. Families are then expected to shoulder massive costs in order to keep their (especially) little ones alive. For any family, these costs are staggering, and for low-income families, they're just downright impossible to maintain. New York's new law "provides for such milk for as long as it’s medically necessary, no matter the infant’s age," which helps families in need to breathe a little bit easier.
And that's where Bouchet-Horowitz and her team come in. Given the new legislation, the The New York Milk Bank is already ramping up to meet the new demand for milk. "We knew that about 200,000 ounces would be needed to feed these babies," she shared, adding, "We planned to meet that need and have everything in place for when this happened so that's what we prepared for."
Though this might be the first you're hearing of states including donor milk in healthcare, New York actually isn't the first to do so. California, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and Utah all include milk in their plans, too. Six states seems a little bit low, however. Honestly, why wouldn't more places want to help prematures babies and prevent higher healthcare costs? With any luck, this will become a nation-wide trend — and soon.