In response to the increasing informal sharing of human milk, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) has published guidelines to minimize the risk of this practice while enhancing the health benefits. The position statement is published in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Breastfeeding Medicine website until February 8, 2018.
"Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine's 2017 Position Statement on Informal Breast Milk Sharing for the Term Healthy Infant" discusses strategies to maximize the safety of community-based breast milk sharing, including 1) medical screening of the donor and 2) safe milk handling practices. Donors should have no medical illness where breastfeeding is contraindicated nor on any medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding. Mothers can further reduce the risk of infections by performing home pasteurization of donated milk prior to giving it to her infant; however, pasteurization can decrease some of the beneficial components of human milk. ABM also emphasizes that while informal milk sharing has potential health benefit, "internet-based milk sharing is not recommended under any circumstances."
"Informal breast milk sharing is becoming increasingly common for healthy term infants as 21st century families desire to feed their infants human milk," says Dr. Timothy Tobolic, president of ABM. "Physicians and other health care providers can help mothers and families evaluate the risks and benefits of informal milk sharing."