Donor human milk use in neonatal units: practice and opinions in the Republic of Ireland
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Over the past decade, where mother’s own milk (MOM) is unavailable, the use of donor human milk has become increasingly common in preterm and very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates. Limited literature exists regarding donor human milk practices in neonatal units.
To examine practices and opinions regarding use of donor human milk in neonatal units in the Republic of Ireland.
Cross-sectional postal survey of all neonatologists and paediatricians working in each of the 19 neonatal units in the Republic of Ireland.
Eighty-eight paediatricians and neonatologists were surveyed and 44 (50%) replied. Responses were received from 20 (95%) neonatal units, of whom 15 (75%) reported using donor milk. Sixty percent of units had a written donor milk policy however significant variation existed in birth weight and gestational age thresholds for its use. Thirty-eight (86%) of respondents were opposed to the use of donor milk for supplementation of otherwise healthy term neonates. Ten (23%) of respondents believed that supplementation with donor milk compared to formula improves long-term breastfeeding rates. Twenty-two (56%) agreed that the majority of studies supporting the use of donor milk to prevent necrotising enterocolitis in preterm infants were undertaken in the past 15 years.
This is the first study to evaluate current practices and opinions regarding donor milk use in the Republic of Ireland and highlights the necessity to develop a national guideline of evidence-based best practice.
KeywordsDonor breast milk Preterm Very low birth weight
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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