LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences opened the first milk bank in the state with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
The UAMS Milk Bank facility is located in the Monroe Building near the UAMS main campus in Little Rock. Health officials said the facility will focus on the health of mothers and newborns in Arkansas and provide a supply of donor milk for sick and vulnerable infants in neonatal intensive care units around the state.
Officials said that Arkansas hospitals previously relied on donor milk purchased from milk banks in Texas, Michigan, Illinois and Oklahoma, costing more than $1 million a year.
With the new local milk bank, health officials said that the supply will shorten the time it takes for regional hospitals to receive critical milk supplies and improve outcomes for babies.
“Sadly, Arkansas has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the U.S., and decreased breastfeeding is a troubling trend that leads to serious health conditions in newborns and their mothers,” UAMS chancellor and UAMS Health CEO Cam Patterson said. “However, this new facility is a bold statement in support of mothers and their babies, and I am very proud of the leadership and collaboration that was involved in making it a reality.”
The Milk Bank will house screening pasteurization and nutritional analysis facilities and spaces for women to breastfeed or donate their milk. Officials said there will also be a mail-in option and drop-off locations for women across the state to donate.
In 2021, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 225 which allowed the state to create the milk bank and a special fund to help support its functions.
For information about how to donate milk to the Milk Bank, visit UAMSHealth.com.