Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Human Milk Donation: What Do You Know About It?

Woo, Katie BSN, RN; Spatz, Diane PhD, RNC

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: May-June 2007 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 150–155
doi: 10.1097/01.NMC.0000269563.42982.64
feature article

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly endorses that human milk is species specific and the optimal nutrition for infants, and that banked human milk is a suitable alternative. After the death of an infant, breast milk often is disposed of without consideration of donation because the public and healthcare providers are unaware of human milk banks. In the United States, 10 human milk banks operate under strict guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Donors are screened, and milk is pasteurized while preserving many of the beneficial components of breast milk. It is imperative that healthcare providers become educated regarding human milk banking because of the increase in informal sharing of breast milk via the Internet. Breast milk that has not been screened and treated has the risk of transmitting infections such as hepatitis and HIV. Healthcare providers should be familiar with the selection criteria for suitable donors and how to approach families when the death of an infant is imminent. Human milk banks are able to provide human milk to adopted, preterm, or ill infants whose mothers are unable to provide their own milk.

Have you seen auctions for breast milk on the Internet? Should women share their breast milk? What is a regulated human milk bank? All nurses who care for women should know about this.

Katie Woo is a Staff Nurse, Emergency Department, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA. She recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, where she intends to pursue a Masters Degree. She can be reached via e-mail at

Diane Spatz is an Associate Professor–Clinician Educator, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, amd a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA.

There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.