Monday, December 04, 2006

What Is The Role Of Donor Breast Milk?

More and more women are turning to breastmilk banks, either as donors or users for their infants. In cities where such banks do not exist, an elaborate network of underground donors springs up, with transactions facilitated by lactation consultants or breastfeeding clinics. Offers of breastmilk for sale can even be found on Craigslist. A new study just published in the British Medical Journal questions the wisdom of this.

From Science Daily.

More evidence is needed to determine whether donor breast milk is beneficial for babies in intensive care, argues a senior doctor in this week's British Medical Journal.

Mother's milk is recommended for all babies, but mothers of preterm babies and other babies in intensive care are often unable to provide enough milk for their baby's needs. Donor breast milk and formula milk are options to make up the shortfall.

But 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, says Neena Modi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Imperial College London.

What evidence is there to support the use of donor breast milk, she asks?

A recent detailed analysis showed that donor breast milk reduced the risk of necrotising enterocolitis (a serious inflammatory condition of the bowel) when compared with formula, but infant growth was slower, and benefit was seen only when breast milk or formula was the sole source of nutrition. Current practice would be to use donor milk as a supplement to mother's milk and not as sole diet.


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