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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

NICE guidance on donor breast milk

25th February 2010

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published guidance that reinforces the safety of donor breast milk in the UK.


NICE has made a series of recommendations designed to maintain high standards of practice in specialist milk banks across the country.

Mothers can donate breast milk to one of 17 specified milk banks, which can be then used by hospitals requesting it.

However, there remain concerns among health professionals over how the donated breast milk is handled, processed and stored.

The new guidelines are intended to serve as a practical guide to the effective running of these services, produce consistent standards and ensure safety.

Christine Carson, Programme Director for the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said some misconceptions still exist around the processes used by milk banks to ensure the safety of donor breast milk.

She added: “This new guideline, which has been developed by a range of experts, will help reinforce the message that specialist milk banks operate to the highest safety standards and our recommendations will make sure good practice is consistent across the UK.”

Recommendations include: using serological testing to screen all potential breast milk donors for diseases including HIV, hepatitis and syphilis; pasteurising all milk to reduce the risk of any potentially harmful bacteria being passed on; ensuring that all equipment used in milk handling and processing is regularly inspected; only supplying donor breast milk to hospitals or neonatal units who agree to comply with the tracking procedures for milk as outlined by the milk bank.


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