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Human Milk Banks

Donating Breast Milk


Updated April 21, 2009

In 1980, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund issued a joint statement proposing, "Where it is not possible for the biological mother to breastfeed, the first alternative, if available, should be the use of human milk from other sources. Human milk banks should be made available in appropriate situations."

What are some situations where one would use donor milk?

There are quite a few, but the most common reasons are that:

(Even though the outcomes with mature milk are not clearly established, fresh colostrum is proven to be remarkably protective and can be obtained from low-risk, thoroughly screened mothers.)

  • The premature baby's health would improve from the nutrition in breast milk, particularly if the baby weighs under 1,500 grams.
  • The Mother is currently incapable of feeding an exclusively breastfed baby.

(After many weeks of pumping or when the Mother has been sick or hospitalized, it is possible that the Mother's supply is insufficient when she initially puts the baby to the breast -- these babies are typically already at home.)

  • The babies are high risk and premature and need supplemented breast milk, a dried concoction of combined samples of donor milk that are added to the Mother's fresh milk to boost the caloric and nutritional value.
  • The older baby or toddler has uncommon feeding problems, which ia typically defined as an incapability to have any oral nutrition except for breast milk.

What are the qualifications to become a donor?

A mother who is interested in donating milk should be healthy and meet the following requirements:

  • Had a normal pregnancy and delivery
  • Blood tested negative for syphilis, hepatitis B surface antigen, cytomegalovirus and HIV
  • Has no acute or chronic infections and should not be at a high risk for any illnesses
  • Be not using medications, smoking or drinking unreasonable amounts of alcohol
  • Can comply with sterile techniques
  • Has a healthy baby who does not have jaundice


Human Milk Banking Association of North America

Related Video
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How to Pump and Store Breast Milk

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