Human Donor Milk in Maternity
Ines Salmoral and Denise McGuinness reflect on whether human donor milk should be made available for healthy term infants in the maternity setting
The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding with safe and adequate complementary food for up to 2 years and beyond (WHO and UNICEF, 2018).
It is recognised that for term babies, additional milk supplementation may be necessary to support breastfeeding, as a result of medical indications or maternal request during the early postpartum period. Human milk banks provide donor human milk for human babies and operate according to guidelines developed by national bodies or local organisations (Shenker et al, 2021).
Currently, worldwide, donor human milk is reserved primarily for babies in the neonatal setting, preterm babies and critically ill babies (Shenker et al, 2021). Human milk should be offered as first option supplementation for all breastfed babies when additional maternal milk is required (WHO and UNICEF, 2018). The early introduction of commercial formula milk is associated with cessation of breastfeeding (Bond et al, 2021).
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