Human Milk Banks: A Narrative Review

Document Type: Original Article


1 ARSLVT, USF Marginal - R. Egas Moniz 9010, Piso 2, 2765-618 São João do Estoril, Lisboa, Portugal.

2 Serviço Pediatria Centro Hospitalar Vila Nova Gaia/Espinho - R. Conceição Fernandes 1079, Vila Nova de Gaia, 4434-502 Vila Nova de Gaia.

3 Serviço Ginecologia/Obstetrícia Hospital Senhora da Oliveira Guimarães, R. dos Cutileiros 114, Creixomil, 4835-044 Guimarães.

4 Serviço de Ginecologia/Obstetrícia Hospital de Cascais Dr. José Almeida - Avenida Brigadeiro Victor Novais Gonçalves 2755-009 Alcabideche.


Not all mothers can provide sufficient milk, and infants admitted to a neonatal ward are less likely to be exclusively breastfed. Current recommendations are for the use of mother’s own milk (MOM), and pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) is the next best choice. The present article was prepared as a tool to study the optimal organization of Human milk banks (HMB) and to contribute to the diffusion of the culture and promotion of breastfeeding and summarize current best practices for the handling of PDHM.
Materials and Methods:
PubMed, Embase and Cochrane were searched using the search term combination “human milk banks” OR “pasteurized donor human milk”.
HMB are responsible for human milk (HM) promotion, collection, processing, protection, quality control, distribution and support. The quality of expressed HM is the result of adequate hygienic-sanitary conditions, from expression to administration, and the evaluation of nutritional, immunological, chemical, and microbiological characteristics. It is essential a multidisciplinary team to support an HMB.
In settings where donor HM supplies are limited, prioritization of infants by medical status is key. The manner in how investments in human milk feeding are applied should be targeted. The purchase cost of PDHM should be compared with the purchase costs of other nutrition interventions routinely used in care for critically ill neonates.