Human milk banks play an essential role by providing human milk to infants who would otherwise not be able to receive human milk. The largest group of recipients are premature infants who derive very substantial benefits from it. Human milk protects premature infants from necrotizing enterocolitis and from sepsis, two devastating medical conditions. Milk banks collect, screen, store, process, and distribute human milk. Donating women usually nurse their own infants and have a milk supply that exceeds their own infants' needs. Donor women are carefully selected and are screened for HIV-1, HIV-2, human T-cell leukemia virus 1 and 2, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and syphilis. In the milk bank, handling, storing, processing, pooling, and bacterial screening follow standardized algorithms. Heat treatment of human milk diminishes anti-infective properties, cellular components, growth factors, and nutrients. However, the beneficial effects of donor milk remain significant and donor milk is still highly preferable in comparison to formula.
© 2017 S. Karger AG, Basel.