For mothers who are experiencing low milk supply, or who are unable to provide milk to their infants for other reasons, pasteurized donor human milk is available as a supplement. The Mothers’ Milk Bank at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) provides pasteurized donor human milk to infants who are hospitalized at CHOP.
The CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank was developed in cooperation with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), a professional organization that sets the standards and guidelines for nonprofit donor milk banking in North America.
The milk bank is located within the Main Building at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Donated milk is pasteurized and processed on-site.
Since 2006, the Hospital has offered pasteurized donor human milk for hospitalized infants. This milk was provided by HMBANA milk banks. Infants hospitalized at CHOP can now receive pasteurized donor human milk directly from the CHOP Mothers' Milk Bank.
How donor human milk can help sick infants
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend human milk as the sole form of nutrition for all infants during the first 6 months of life. Human milk is especially important for vulnerable, at-risk infants, for optimal health and developmental outcomes.
- Strengthens an infant’s immune system to help fight disease and infection (including necrotizing enterocolitis)
- Contains growth hormones to develop infants' intestinal systems
- Is easier to digest than formula
- Offers infants better neurodevelopmental outcomes
Pasteurized donor human milk can be used to help infants with a variety of conditions, including prematurity, allergies, feeding intolerance, immunologic deficiencies, post-operative nutrition, treatment of some infectious diseases, and treatment of certain inborn errors of metabolism.
How to donate human milk to the CHOP Mothers' Milk Bank
The CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank will be accepting milk donations from mothers of CHOP patients.
In order to become a HMBANA donor, mothers must meet strict donor criteria to ensure they are healthy and that their milk is safe. Donors must first complete a verbal screening. This can be done in person or via telephone. Next, mothers complete a medical history and lifestyle questionnaire and obtain the approval of their healthcare provider. They will also have a blood test to screen for diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis.
After screening, approval, and blood testing, the donated milk is heat-treated using the Holder pasteurization method.
If you’re interested in donating human milk, but your child is not a CHOP patient, please check the HMBANA website for contact information. Many HMBANA milk banks can facilitate a donation from afar.
If you’re a mother of a CHOP patient and interested in becoming a milk donor or have questions about the CHOP Mothers’ Milk Bank, email us at CHOPMMB@email.chop.edu.