Potential Risks Associated With Informal Human Milk Sharing

Here is a short list of *some* of the viruses that spread through human milk. This article is not complete. If you are a mother that is concerned that your baby might contract one of the following diseases because you have been diagnosed with it, we suggest you contact your health care provider. This article is meant to share information about the types of pathogens that can pass through milk. In private milk sharing situations the risk of disease sharing is greater because there is a level of blindness about infection, and higher potential danger from unknowingly sharing illness. Breastfeeding your own healthy baby during a period of illness is normally %100 percent safe. *In rare situations it may be discouraged*.

HIV is at the top of this list because of the potential deadliness of the virus.

Human T-cell lympotropic virus type (HTLV-1) can transmit through milk and can cause serious, adverse effects on the child.

Cytomegalovirus CMV can pose serious risks for preterm infants and at risk infants.

Hepatitis C has been proven to pass through milk and is particularly infectious during active periods.

Rubella can transit through milk.

Riordan’s Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, fourth edition pg.207 states that it is probable that Hepatitis B is passed through human milk, and it is probable that West Nile virus is passed through breast milk as well.

Another critical variable in milk sharing is whether the milk has come from a mother who is taking medications, street drugs or has in some other way compromised her milk. These are things we cannot be sure of.

From LLLI’s 2007 revised statement on milk sharing, “Because some individuals may have a viral or bacterial infection but remain asymptomatic (without symptoms) they may never know they are infecting another party. For this reason, ‘knowing someone well’ would be inadequate protection against disease transmission because the carrier is unaware she is infected.”

Full article here: http://www.llli.org/Release/milksharing.html

Donating milk
http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVAprMay00p19.html

AAP contraindications to bfing
http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;115/2/496#SEC3

HMBANA guidelines
http://www.hmbana.org/index/donatemilk

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