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Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;68:49-61; discussion 61-4. doi: 10.1159/000325659. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

The knowns and unknowns of human milk banking.

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PREM Human Milk Bank, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA, Australia.


The provision of donor human milk instead of formula is an important contribution to the nutrition and protection from infections for preterm infants. Systematic reviews suggest a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis with pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) as opposed to artificial formula, although evidence supporting PDHM use from randomized control trials is limited. Human milk banks (HMBs) must have a risk management system to maintain a safe product especially as many operate in an unregulated environment. To ensure safety, the HMB in Australia has committed to meet the appropriate standards recommended in the Code of Good Manufacturing Practices (Blood and Tissues) and models risk management during processing on Codex HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) requirements. There is scope to continually reevaluate the screening of donors and quality standards recommended during HMB. This will be most effective if strong networks of HMBs are developed with regional reference laboratories to encourage compliance with safety guidelines. Further research and development is needed to refine technology for treating donor milk such as thermal ultrasound and ultraviolet light, aimed at the retention of full bioactivity. HMB networks will facilitate collection of evidence for refining HMB practice which should translate to improved outcomes for preterm and sick infants. Cost effectiveness is most likely when HMBs are associated with large neonatal intensive care units.

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