By Ronny Reyes and Lindsay Andarakis
Long Island’s first and only breast milk depot opened last week in New Hyde Park inside Dr. Lauren Macalouso’s clinics, New York Milk Bank officials said.
Macalouso’s clinic will be one of eight currently operational depots in New York, which is now the third state alongside Ohio and Massachusetts that can distribute donated breast milk. The New York depots will have licenses from the Department of Health in order to collect the breast milk.
“It’s kind of amazing that as mammals, as a society, it’s taken us this long to make milk more possible to get to infants,” Macalouso said.
As a breastfeeding medicine physician, Macalouso was contacted by Bouchet-Horwitz and asked to open a donation depot for Long Island, Macalouso explained.
Macalouso went into her area of focus in order to consult and provide new mothers with proper nutritional help for their newborns.
“It’s a really wonderful way to empower new mothers in helping them meet the need of their children,” she said.
The clinic is equipped with a freezer to store donor milk, which will be sent off once it reaches 75 percent capacity. In cases of large donations, Macalouso added, she would be able to immediately ship the milk to the bank’s headquarters in Irvington, New York.
“We receive a minimum of 150 ounces, which we pool together with one or two other donors and pasteurize the milk,” Bouchet-Horwitz, director of the NY Milk Bank, said.
Donors must go through a rigorous screening process that checks for alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, herbal medication, HIV and other substances that might harm a feeding newborn, Bouchet-Horwitz added.
“We’ve had a 0 percent infection rate.”
Stony Brook Professor of Sociology Catherine Marrone, who specializes in medical sociology and human reproduction, says that providing natural milk for newborns rather than formula is good for babies’ immune systems.
“Formula has actually been linked to high incidents of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure,” Boriana Parvez, a neonatologist and director of development for the NY Milk Bank, added. “Formula mimics breast milk, but it’s never the same.”
Macalouso’s clinic is only able to accept donations, but the doctor is open to the idea of becoming a distribution center for the NY Milk Bank once it grows in order to provide milk directly to the mothers on Long Island.
The NY Milk Bank is looking to open more clinics in Albany, Hopewell Junction, Ithaca, Jamaica, Kingston, Oswego, Poughkeepsie and Rochester.