New guidance on breast milk sharing

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In recent years there has been an increase in informal sharing of breast milk as families' desires to feed their infants with human milk increases. While the practice can benefit infants and families, it also carries potential risks, and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) has published new guidelines to help minimise the risks of the practice while enhancing its health benefits. 

Presenting the guidance in Breastfeeding Medicine, the ABM recommends two key strategies to reduce the risks associated with milk-sharing namely; medical screening of donors and safe milk handling practices. Donors should have no medical illness where breastfeeding is contraindicated and should not be taking any medication or herbal supplement that is incompatible with breastfeeding. Healthcare providers can advise mothers who want to further reduce the risk of infections to perform home pasteurisation of donated milk before use, the guidance states. 

The ABM says internet-based breast milk sharing, and especially the purchase of milk over the Internet, is strongly discouraged since the donors are unknown to the recipient and/or cannot be medically screened, and the milk is often not suitable for consumption upon arrival.