Intended for healthcare professionals


Donor breast milk banking

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 30 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1133
  1. Neena Modi, professor of neonatal medicine (
  1. 1Division of Medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Campus, Imperial College London, London SW10 9NH

Unregulated expansion requires evidence of benefit

Mother's milk is recommended for all babies, but mothers of preterm babies and other babies in intensive care are often unable or too ill to provide enough milk for their baby's needs. Mother's milk protects against infection and enhances neurocognitive development; it may also improve enteral tolerance and long term metabolic health as well as reduce asthma and other atopic disorders. Donor breast milk from a human milk bank and formula are options to make up the shortfall. The extent to which pasteurised donor breast milk retains the biological properties of mother's milk is uncertain, and its place in present day neonatal intensive care is unclear.

Donor human milk is not the optimal food for preterm growth.1 This is especially a problem because preterm infants also have limited tolerance for large volumes of milk and because infants who receive milk by gavage or spoon, unlike those who suckle at the breast, cannot regulate energy intake.2 The protein and mineral content of donor milk can be increased by breast milk fortifier or formula, but this is an imprecise science as …

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