In preterm infants, feeding with human milk (HM) is a very effective intervention for the prevention of infections and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), and for potentially improved neurocognitive and cardiovascular outcomes in the long-term. Hospitals and physicians are advised to recommend HM for preterm and other high-risk infants either by direct breastfeeding and/or using the mother's own expressed milk. Donor HM is the preferred feeding when the mother's own milk is not available in sufficient quantity. While in some countries donor HM has been considered an effective tool in the delivery of health care to infants, skepticism regarding its nutritional and immunological quality has limited its distribution in other countries. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the clinical benefits of donor HM in preterm infants, and to discuss common concerns limiting its distribution as standard care. Clinically, the use of donor HM has been shown to prevent NEC, reduce feeding intolerance and improve long-term outcomes in premature infants. Common concerns, such as slow growth and loss of important biological components of donor HM due to storage and pasteurization, should not be a reason for denial of donor milk. Optimization of banking procedures and of HM fortification is available and should be applied. Banked donor milk should be promoted as standard component of health care for premature infants.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York