I often talk about FDA and WHO recomendations about breastmilk and breastmilk sharing and thought it might be helpful to share where you can see them for yourselves.
The FDA seems essentially supportive but way more concerned with informing you of the inherent risks and suggesting pasteurized donor milk might be best-
Consider the possible safety risks
If you are considering feeding a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, you should know that there are possible health and safety risks for the baby. Risks for the baby include exposure to infectious diseases, including HIV, to chemical contaminants, such as some illegal drugs, and to a limited number of prescription drugs that might be in the human milk, if the donor has not been adequately screened. In addition, if human milk is not handled and stored properly, it could, like any type of milk, become contaminated and unsafe to drink.
Read the rest here.
Meanwhile, WHO is super clear about how they feel about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
They’re a little less clear (on their website at least) on how they feel about breastmilk sharing but, according to this 2007 study on ‘formula vs donor breastmilk for premature or low birth weight infants’ it’s pretty clear that breastmilk is what babies are meant to eat. If they have no access to their mother’s breastmilk, the next best nourishment is donor breastmilk and if that is not available, then formula is acceptable nourishment.
I was surprised at the main results of the study:
Eight trials fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Only one trial used nutrient-fortified donor breast milk. Enteral feeding with formula milk compared with donor breast milk resulted in higher rates of growth in the short term. There was no evidence of an effect on long-term growth rates or neurodevelopmental outcomes. Meta-analysis of data from five trials demonstrated a statistically significantly higher incidence of necrotising enterocolitis in the formula fed group: typical relative risk 2.5 (95% confidence interval 1.2, 5.1); typical risk difference: 0.03 (95% confidence interval 0.01, 0.06; number needed to harm: 33 (95% confidence interval 17, 100).
Then I reminded myself that no evidence in this trial doesn’t mean there is no effect, and that the ‘statistically significantly higher incidence of necrotising enterocolitis in the formula fed group’ is sufficient data to support WHO’s recommendation of breastfeed from birth mother first, donor milk second and formula third.
And I still completely support each family’s choice about what they feed their baby and why. I want you to make an informed decision about what is best for you and yours. And I want to be sure that breastmilk, if you want it, is accessible to you.
Hope that helps. And as always, I invite you to share any pertinent links on this subject in the comments below.