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Should Preemies Use Donor Breastmilk?

 

You have probably heard the quote “breast is best.” This is true for all babies regardless if the breastmilk is from the baby’s mother or other sources. 

Preemies are especially susceptible to more illness and disabilities later in life. In the past, preemies have been mostly excluded from donor breast milk due to the fact that doctors and hospitals were concerned with the safety of the breast milk.

Research shows that donor breast milk CAN be incredibly beneficial for preemie babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the governing body for pediatric doctors, has embraced breast milk in the neonatal unit, if “proper safety measures” are used in the hospital.

The AAP does discourage buying donor breast milk from online sources and “milk-sharing”.

How is donor breastmilk safe?

Donors are screened for hepatitis and HIV, and the milk is pasteurized and sometimes the milk is cultured for bacterial contamination. Although pasteurization does kill “good” bacteria, this is seen as a necessary step for the vulnerable infant.

Why is breastmilk best?

Breastmilk is the IDEAL nutrition for an infant. The list of benefits is long and even effects the child for the rest of his or her life. For a quick and dirty list, breastmilk helps fight off viruses, bacteria, infections, allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, reduces hospitalization, fewer ear infections, fewer respiratory illness, etc.

Mother’s breastmilk is best for the infant, but if that’s not possible than using donor breastmilk could be the next best thing – even for preemies.

Photo by j2dread

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