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Demand rises for donated breast milk amid baby formula shortage

Demand rises for donated breast milk amid baby formula shortage
Demand rises for donated breast milk amid baby formula shortage 02:15

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (CBS) -- With parents struggling to navigate the baby formula shortage, breast milk donation banks are seeing a sharp increase in demand — but also a jump in donations.

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar visited the only breast milk bank in Illinois on Tuesday to find out how it works.

The Elk Grove Village-based nonprofit Mother's Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes receives breast milk in storage bags. The organization primarily serves children's hospitals — providing pasteurized breast milk for premature babies.

"We thaw it, we pasteurize it and process it, and bottle it," Mother's Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes executive director Summer Kelly.

But with a nationwide shortage of baby formula, the calls coming into the milk bank have changed in recent weeks.

"We're getting a lot of calls from anxious parents - and we can provide emergency short-term use of donor milk just to bridge a gap," Kelly said.

Kelly says in the last two weeks, demand for breast milk and donations from mother's has jumped nearly 20 percent — and the milk doesn't come cheap. A 4-ounce bottle is $20.

Donors are screened and tested

While health experts say breast milks is a safe alternative to formula, you should check with your pediatrician before you change your child's diet.

As for the donors, they don't get paid. But the formula shortage was one of the reasons some donors like Hannah Shebesta decided to donate.

"I decided to add another pump session in to try and donate even more milk just because I know it's needed right now," Shebesta said. "I would hate to let my milk go to waste."

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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