In response to increased interest in human milk sharing, LLLI has revised its policy on milk donations in consultation with its Professional Advisory Board. This is a summary:
As an international organization, LLLI is aware that many mothers in many cultures have informally shared their breastmilk and wet nursed among family members and trusted friends. LLLI also recognizes that in times of severe maternal illness/death and natural disaster, sharing milk has been lifesaving. The latter special circumstances, however, are beyond the scope of the policy statement. In keeping with the recommendations of the Health Advisory Council of the LLLI Professional Advisory Board, LLLI has developed stringent guidelines concerning the collection and use of donated human milk.
Mothers seeking donated milk are advised to dialogue with an appropriate, licensed health care provider and contact a licensed human milk bank or other regulated and medically supervised human milk collection center in her country.
Feeding donated human milk, whether on an occasional or on a long term basis, has documented benefits and risks. Benefits include, but are not limited to: optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and immunologic protection. Risks can include, but are not limited to: transmission of certain infectious agents, like bacteria or viruses, some of which may be found in milk expressed by asymptomatic women; drugs; possibly some environmental contaminants, potentially unhygienic storage and handling of unprocessed donated milk; and the limitations of home sterilization of expressed milk. Milk from a qualified milk bank will require donors meet specific health requirements before accepting their donated milk, which eliminates many of those risks. Each country sets its own standards for milk donors and these screening criteria are available by contacting the milk banks directly.
Mothers who are interested in donating their milk may ask LLL for contact information for licensed human milk banks or other regulated and medically supervised collection centers. A donor may 1) request complete information from the milk bank or collection center about how her milk will be used; 2) inquire if she may restrict how her milk will be used; 3) make her decision about donation in the light of the information she receives from the milk bank or collection center.