Milk Bank of New England hosts international milk banking conference

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England (MMBNE) hosted the 3rd international conference of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) in Boston, April 12-13. Over 200 practitioners, researchers, and milk bank representatives from across North America, Europe and Asia came to learn, network, share ideas and celebrate. The conference celebrated 100 years of donor milk banking which began in Boston in 1910, and 25 years of HMBANA, established in 1985.

The conference began before it began with a sold out chartered Duck Tour on Sunday afternoon, to give our out of town guests and taste of the history and fun Boston has to offer.

The conference featured internationally renowned researchers including: medical historian Kara Swanson on history of donor milk; Pediatric Infectious Disease physician Robert Lawrence, speaking on viruses and disease transmission in human milk; physician and biologist Anders Hakansson, involved in the widely reported discovery from Sweden in the 1990s human milk kills cancer cells, spoke on anti-tumor activity in human milk; epidemiologist Ardythe Morrow, on environmental contaminants in human milk; neonatologist Ron Cohen on calcium and phosphorus supplementation and MGH/Harvard chemist David Newburg, on oligosaccharides in human milk.

A gala dinner on Monday evening featured Kevin West, who presented his short film “Mother’s Milk” about a bereaved mother who found much comfort in donating milk. He also discussed the feature length documentary on donor milk and milk banking that is currently being filmed.

The conference included a dozen posters showcasing new research from milk banks and labs around the world. Several New England hospitals presented posters on efficacy of use of donor human milk.

About 50 New Englanders attended the conference, representing over a dozen hospitals as well as other practices and agencies. Six hospitals in New England (3 of them in MA) have recently implemented or are in process of establishing protocols to use donor milk as standard of care in their NICUs and nurseries. The conference was an important opportunity to learn from internationally recognized experts in the field and from clinicians throughout the world who are using these best practices.