In a press conference at Borough Hall last week, Borough President Eric Adams voiced his support for the bill known as Nikolas’ Bill.
“Nikolas’ Bill is about saving our most vulnerable and precious lives,” said Adams. “Premature babies benefit the most not from man-made medicines, but from the most natural food to them.”
The bill is named for Nikolas Bell, who weighed just two pounds when he was born in the spring of 2015. Bell and his twin brother were transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit near the family's home in Middletown that didn't cover the cost of donor breast milk for mothers that couldn't nurse.
Bell developed an intestinal illness that strikes one out of every six premature babies who are given infant formula. He died five weeks after he was born.
“This is a health equity issue,” said Elie Ward, director of policy and advocacy for the New York State American Academy of Pediatrics. “Very sick newborns and infants from low-income families should have the same access to life-saving donor breast milk as babies born to wealthier families.”
Of the approximately 250,000 births in New York State, roughly 3,500 children are born at very low birth weights.
One of the bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages of Long Island, said it's rumored that the cost to the state is keeping the bill from becoming law.
“This legislation provides critical support for our youngest New Yorkers,” said Solages. “Their life should not be compared to the value of a dollar.”