Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

'Breast Milk Banks' Gain in Popularity

Experts say they're safer than online milk-sharing sources

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A wave of new nonprofit breast milk banks are opening across North America, driven by research that has promoted the use of donated mother's milk for healthy babies.

Five new milk banks are expected to open this year in the United States and Canada, joining four that opened in 2013 and bringing the total number of nonprofit milk banks up to 22, said Kim Updegrove, president of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

"There's an amazing resurgence of milk banks in North America," Updegrove said. "Every healthy lactating mother has the ability to save another baby's life if she is willing to go through a screening process and donate her milk through a nonprofit milk bank."

She said breast milk contains important nutrients, immune-system antibodies and growth factors that all contribute to a baby's health, particularly babies who are vulnerable because they are premature or underweight.

"It's now irrefutable that in absence of mom's own milk, donor milk increases survival rate and improves development of vulnerable infants," she said.

The milk banks are proliferating in response to mounting medical research that has shown donated breast milk can nurture babies just as well as their mother's own milk, Updegrove said.

Pediatricians hope that mothers will see the milk banks as a better, safer alternative to the growing practice of online breast milk sharing, said Dr. Susan Landers, a neonatologist in Austin, Texas, who sits on the American Academy of Pediatrics' section on breast-feeding.

Breast milk banks screen all donors, running tests to make sure they are not carrying an infectious disease that could be passed on through their milk, Landers said. In addition, the collected milk is pasteurized before being frozen and passed out to hospitals and families on a doctor's prescription.

Updegrove's group acts as a professional organization for the network of milk banks, laying out guidelines and certifying new banks as they come online.

"The AAP likes that set up," Landers said. "We like the milk to be pasteurized. We want the donor mothers to be screened. We want doctors to know it's a sterile product and prescribe it when donor milk is needed."

1 | 2 | 3

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow