Facts about Donor Milk

Key facts about Donor Milk

  • While donor milk is not the same as mother’s own milk, research shows that donor milk can protect a specific group of infants – preterm or very low birth weight babies against life-threatening illnesses such as necrotizing enterocolitis — a severe bowel condition that primarily targets preterm babies.
  • Donor milk goes through a rigorous process of screening, testing and pasteurization, which ensures that donor milk is safe for medical use.
  • Donor milk is more easily digested by babies, which may mean fewer days of intravenous nutrition.
  • Donor milk has unparalleled immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially protect against a host of illnesses including serious infections and other complications related to preterm birth.
  • Donor milk contains specific elements that protect the intestines against harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society states that donor milk is a recommended alternative to formula in the absence of mother’s own milk for sick hospitalized infants.
  • Health Canada approves the use of donor milk for selected hospitalized infants.
  • Donor milk banking has been endorsed by the Canadian Paediatric Society, the American Academy of Paediatric and the World Health Organization.

Benefits for donor mothers

While it is known that breastfeeding offers a host of benefits to a mother including, a reduction in the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, a more rapid return to pre-pregnancy weight and a decreased risk of osteoporosis, the benefit of donating your surplus breastmilk is the knowledge that you are making a difference in the life of a sick baby and giving comfort to their families.

More General Facts about Donor Milk

  • 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of Milk Banking worldwide.
  • Donor Milk Banking is common practice around the world.
  • The most famous Canadian recipients of donor milk were the Dionne Quintuplets.
  • There are three other donor milk banks in Canada: in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.
  • The guidelines for donor milk banking were established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America for which the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is a member.