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FDA Issues Warning about Use of Donor Breast Milk

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The FDA and Health Canada recently issued warnings regarding potential risks associated with donor breast milk. The warnings come after the rapid, virtual explosion of milk sharing through groups like Eats on Feets, a Facebook-based global milk sharing effort, which we reported on in November.

For parents interested in feeding their babies donor breast milk instead of formula when they can’t provide sufficient breast milk themselves, the FDA recommends that they:

  • Speak with their healthcare provider about their baby’s individual nutritional needs, because of factors like the baby’s age and health
  • Consider possible safety risks, including exposure to infectious diseases, chemical contaminants or prescription drugs, as well as proper handling and storage of the milk
  • Don’t feed a baby breast milk from unscreened donors because of the possible safety risks listed above
  • Obtain human milk only from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk, i.e. a human milk bank

The Canadian Paediatric Society has also stated that it does not endorse the sharing of unprocessed human milk.

For many families, obtaining donor breast milk from a milk bank would be impossible because of need-based restrictions (priority is given to preemies and babies with medical needs) and high financial cost, leaving donations found locally or online as potentially the only option if they don’t want to feed their baby formula. Eats on Feets wants to make families aware of potential risks associated with donor breast milk and offers information on blood tests, questions to ask of donors, and information about flash pasteurization.

Moms, if you were interested in obtaining donor breast milk for your baby if breastfeeding wasn’t an option, would these warnings scare you away from donor milk?

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