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Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank Celebrates Grand Opening

Milk bank

University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare have jointly committed $500,000 to the Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank in Founding Sponsor donations to help the organization fulfill its mission of promoting infant health and nutrition by screening, processing, and dispensing donor human milk.

Nearly 1 in 10 babies (9.4%) born in Utah are preterm, arriving before completing the normal 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. These babies miss out on the important growth and development that happens in the final weeks, and many preterm babies spend days, weeks or even months in Newborn ICUs. For babies in the NICU, pasteurized donor human milk is vital and can save lives.

Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank (MWMMB) recently moved to and equipped a new facility at 2995 S West Temple, and became the 28thfully operational accredited human milk bank in the United States. MWMMB celebrated this accomplishment with a ribbon cutting ceremony with its founding sponsors, University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare, on Thursday, December 12th.

This accomplishment has been many years in the making, and comes as the result of many hardworking people and our community dedicated to bringing a fully-functioning milk bank to Utah, to provide for the tiniest, most fragile babies in local and regional NICUs. Furthermore, none of this would be possible without the more than 500 donor moms, who over the years have generously shared their breast milk to help save the lives of preemie babies.

The opening of the milk bank in Utah is due in part to a dedicated board who has sustained this mission for more than ten years, a skilled employee team, and founding sponsors, Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health for their generous support.

Each healthcare system has donated a total of $250,000. The Founding Sponsor funding from Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health enabled MWMMB's move into a new, larger facility, as well as for the facility buildout, equipment, and operational support to conduct human milk pasteurization and milk distribution here in our region.

Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank (MWMMB), a nonprofit organization, has donor collection sites established in Utah and Southern Idaho to collect donated milk. Collected milk had, until now, been sent to the nearest nonprofit human milk bank, in Denver, Colorado, for processing and distribution. Because the frozen milk sometimes traveled as far as Atlanta en route to Denver, sometimes milk thawed and was lost.

Why a local milk bank is vital to our community.

Only 30 percent of newborn ICU mothers can supply enough milk for their premature infant. Milk banks are there to support the other 70 percent who either cannot express any milk or express quantities too low for infant sustainability. Safe donor human milk is required to bridge that gap. Breast milk provides nutrient and non-nutrient benefits that cannot be provided by infant formulas.

Milk banks screen high producing donors, collect, pasteurize, and then test the milk to assure quality and safety for newborn ICU infants. They then send the pasteurized milk to newborn intensive care units and special care nurseries for infants in need. Milk banks also work to increase breastfeeding rates, advocate for nursing mothers, to increase the supply of donor milk, and as nonprofit businesses, keep costs as low as possible. An exclusive human milk diet allows preterm infants to tolerate and advance to full feedings faster, go home sooner, and experience fewer complications.

In addition, a major life-threatening complication experienced by pre-term babies, necrotizing enterocolitis, may be reduced by almost 80 percent. Use of donor human milk rather than formula to supplement premature infants' diets can thus be life-saving. Exclusively breastfed infants experience fewer infections and allergies. They have better cognitive and behavioral development, and they grow up to have lower rates of asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank's mission is to promote infant health and nutrition by screening, processing, and dispensing donor human milk, in addition to advocating for and promoting lactation and breastfeeding. Join MWMMB and follow the organization's activities on social media. Contact the Mountain West Mothers' Milk Bank for questions or location information at