Milk Safety

How does it work?

We at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast follow strict screening, processing, and testing guidelines to ensure that banked human milk is safe. We select potential donors using a multi-step screening process similar to that used by blood banks. After being received, donated milk is pooled and pasteurized to kill any bacteria or viruses. The milk is only dispensed once bacteriological testing confirms its safety.

Only a small percentage of the milk’s beneficial properties are destroyed by the pasteurization process. Research shows that the method of pasteurization used at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast preserves approximately 70% of the immune factors that help protect babies from illness.

Who makes it possible?

Milk bank donors are healthy, conscientious women who care about the health of babies. They are most often nursing their own infants, have an abundant milk supply, and donate their extra milk to the milk bank. For this generous act they receive no payment or compensation, except the satisfaction that comes from knowing they have helped improve the health of a fragile baby.

Why does it matter?

  • One in eight babies is born preterm.
  • Our country’s premature birth rate has risen by 36% over the last 25 years.
  • Human milk is especially important for premature or sick babies, who are at 10 times the risk for devastating intestinal infections if they are fed formula instead of human milk.
  • Fewer than half of moms who deliver a baby prematurely are fully able to provide their babies with breast milk. Through donor milk, these preterm babies are still able to receive the benefits of breast milk to help them grow and thrive.
  • Some mothers of preterm and sick babies have health complications of their own or may need medications that prevent them from breastfeeding. Yet the babies of these moms are able to get many of the life-saving benefits of breastfeeding through donated human milk.
  • Human milk contains antibodies to fight disease and infection, and protects against allergies.
  • Human milk contains growth hormones that help babies develop.
  • Many new mothers need “Bridge Milk” simply to help sustain their infant which may be experiencing sensitive health issues, until her own milk comes in. This helps to avoid any potential risks associated with formula feeding.