Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, Room 108
  • April 12, 2017 from 4:10pm to 5:30pm

Speaker: Rochelle Maurice, MSW, MHSc, Clinical and Organizational Ethics Fellow, Centre for Clinical Ethics

The practice of human milk sharing is becoming more prevalent, as advocates of this practice endorse the benefitts of breast milk as a sole nutritional source for infants. Milk sharing has become formalized through institutions, such as the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Additionally, informal milk sharing practices are common through community breast milk sharing networks and social media.

The discussion of human milk sharing becomes especially challenging when the most vulnerable infants are being considered. Mothers of infants requiring admission to Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) are at greater risk of experiencing challenges with milk supplies that meet increasing nutritional demands. While infants meeting stringent clinical requirements may be offered pasteurized breast milk from a milk bank to supplement the maternal milk supply, infants who do not meet those eligibility requirements are offered formula as the only alternate nutritional source. Parents whose infants are ineligible for pasteurized breast milk, and who decline nutritional supplementation with formula, may request the use of donated unpasteurized breast milk instead. When health care teams are faced with this question, their responses may be inconsistent.

The presentation will focus on requests for the use of donated unpasteurized breast milk in the NICU. Information relevant to human milk sharing and the values in conflict will be discussed. Benefits and harms will be explored and a resolution for infants requiring NICU care will be proposed.

This seminar is free and open to the public. No registration required.