mother and infant

Low donor milk supply may put hospitalized babies at higher risk of complications

Human milk donations are needed by the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank, Ontario’s only milk bank, to help save sick and pre-term babies’ lives. In Ontario, approximately 1500 low birth weight babies are born every year and many of their mothers are unable to provide adequate amounts of milk. Without donor milk, these fragile babies are at higher risk of developing life threatening complications.

The milk bank collects extra milk from lactating women in Ontario, pasteurizes it, and distributes it by prescription to medically fragile babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) across the province.

Milk donations typically decline over the summer months so an increase in donor milk is needed to replenish current stock to ensure pre-term babies in Ontario who need donor milk have access to it.

“Becoming a milk donor could be decision that is life altering for a baby who is medically fragile, so mothers who fit the criteria are asked to consider donating,” says Dr. Sharon Unger, Medical Director of the Milk Bank and neonatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. “It is a generous and impactful gift that we hope Ontario mothers will make.”

October 1 to 7 is World Breastfeeding Week in Canada, a time to raise awareness of the benefits of breast milk. “While donor milk is not the same as mothers’ own milk, research shows that it can protect the sickest and most vulnerable babies against a life-threatening illness called necrotizing enterocolitis — a severe bowel condition that is a common cause of mortality for pre-term babies,” says Dr. Unger.

About 125 litres of milk are processed each week in the milk bank at Mount Sinai Hospital, part of Sinai Health System. To ensure safe and high quality milk, women wishing to become donors will go through a similar screening process to becoming a blood donor, including filling out a lifestyle and medical history questionnaire and taking a blood test to establish that they do not have any infectious diseases.

The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank at Mount Sinai Hospital opened in 2013, and is made possible through the support of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Melinda Rogers, Eric Hixon and the Rogers Foundation.

For more information or to donate milk, go to:

About Sinai Health System

Sinai Health System is comprised of Mount Sinai Hospital, Bridgepoint Active Healthcare, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and Circle of Care. As an integrated health system, it delivers exceptional care from healthy beginnings to healthy aging, especially for people with specialized and complex health needs, in hospital, community and home. Sinai Health System discovers and translates scientific breakthroughs, develops practical health solutions, educates future clinical and scientific leaders and leads efforts to eliminate health inequities. Its Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute ranks in the top ten biomedical research institutes in the world. Sinai Health System is a full affiliate of the University of Toronto.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Ryan Joyce
Communications Specialist
Sinai Health System
416-586-4800 ext. 8306
[email protected]


Sally Szuster
Senior Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Sinai Health System
416 586-4800 ext. 8713
[email protected]