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Milk Banking FAQ

Mother's Milk Bank

Why collect human milk?
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a common and serious intestinal disease that attacks the intestinal tract. The tissue in the small or large intestine is injured or begins to die, resulting in inflammation or in rare cases, the development of a hole (perforation). Mother’s milk fights infection and can vastly reduce the incidence of NEC, and helps the intestines should they become infected.

Is donor human milk safe?
Yes! The Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina follows strict screening, processing, and dispensing guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) to ensure the safety of donor human milk. These guidelines have been established with the advisement of the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the blood and tissue industries. Potential donors provide complete medical and lifestyle histories, and undergo blood tests. Donated milk is then tested for bacteria and levels of nutrients, and pasteurized to kill any bacteria or viruses. Before the pasteurized milk is dispensed, bacteriological testing is done to ensure its safety.

Who receives donor milk?
Premature and hospitalized infants have the highest priority for receiving donor human milk. There are many reasons why an infant may require donor human milk. Some reasons include: failure to thrive, allergies, post-operative nutrition, infections, preterm birth, malabsorption syndromes, feeding intolerance, and immunologic deficiencies.

Is milk banking cost-effective?
Yes! Donor human milk can help prevent Necrotizing enterocoloitis (NEC) which could reduce hospitalization stay by two weeks, saving anywhere from $128,000 to $238,000!

The likelihood of other complications, like sepsis, may also be decreased with the use of donor human milk, which would result in shorter hospital stays and fewer medical issues.

How is donor milk processed?
Frozen donor milk is thawed, nutritionally analyzed, cultured, pooled and poured into bottles, then pasteurized at 62.5 ᵒC. Pasteurized milk is then frozen at -20 ᵒC. Microbiological cultures are obtained from individual donors’ deposits prior to pasteurization and pooling and from each batch of milk after pasteurization. This is done to verify that no heat-resistant pathogens are present before pasteurization, and that there is zero growth of bacteria after the heating process.

Where can I find out more about milk banking?
Learn more about milk banking at the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) site.