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Information for Recipients of Pasteurised Donor Human Milk (PDHM)

Frequently Asked Questions


Why is breast milk the ideal food for infants?

An exclusive breast milk diet is recommended for the first 6 months of life. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for optimal growth and has enzymes to help with digestion. It reduces the risk of illness through protective antibodies. It also contains growth factors, hormones and prebiotics. This composition of human breast milk is unique and cannot be perfectly imitated in the commercial formula milk preparations.

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Why PDHM?

Although own mother’s breast milk is the first choice, a new mother may sometimes not be able to produce enough breast milk for the first few or in subsequent days despite maximal effort. In other cases, a mother’s breast milk may not be available if she is suffering from a serious medical condition. In such instances using PDHM can be life saving for infants especially if they are premature and sick.

Medical research has proven that breast milk improves the health outcomes of all babies, both term and preterm. In particular, using formula milk in preterm infants puts more strain on their immature digestive and immune systems. They have difficulty digesting milk and are prone to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC causes the intestines to be damaged and it can lead to death of the baby.

In full term infants with certain medical conditions such as heart disease and gastro-intestinal malformations, the use of breast milk offers protection from infections, reduces feeding intolerance and fosters better long term growth and development.

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How is the donor milk collected and stored?

All donors are screened via a questionnaire and blood tests to ensure they are healthy. KK Human Milk Bank follows strict international guidelines handling and processing of donor milk. Donor milk is stored in special freezers with continuous temperature monitoring.

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Are there possible risks related to feeding PDHM?

The risk of acquiring an infection via PDHM is immeasurably small. All donor milk undergoes a process called pasteurisation to kill any disease-causing germs in the milk. The pasteurised milk is tested to ensure it is free of bacteria before it is given to recipients. The benefits of PDHM far outweigh this risk, and the risk of formula feeding, especially for premature infants.

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Can I choose not to give PDHM to my child or withdraw consent later?

Yes. You can choose not to consent to PDHM or withdraw consent for PDHM at any time. This will not affect the quality of medical care given to your child.

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Who are eligible for PDHM?

Criteria for PDHM:

  • Preterm babies, or
  • Sick term babies and children less than 1 year old admitted in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Intensive Care Unit/ Step Down Unit/ High Dependency with qualifying medical conditions
  • Compassionate indications

All requests for PDHM must be prescribed by medical team and approved by the Director of the KK Human Milk Bank.

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When is PDHM discontinued?

PDHM will be discontinued when:

  • Mother has established her own milk supply
  • Upon discharge from KKH
  • Medical team decides that child no longer requires PDHM
  • Parent(s) withdraw consent for PDHM
  • PDHM prescribed is not used for the intended recipient/purpose

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Will anybody know that my child is receiving PDHM?

It will be documented in the medical notes that your child is receiving PDHM. However, all information obtained by KKH will be kept confidential and only accessible by authorized personnel in KKH.

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Will I know who the donor is?

No. Donor information is not available to the recipient.

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Is Pasteurised Donor Human Milk safe given the current COVID-19 pandemic? / Can my baby get coronavirus from Pasteurised Donor Human Milk?

Pasteurised donor human milk remains the safest alternative for vulnerable preterm or sick infants with inadequate own mother’s milk. Stringent standards of donor recruitment and milk handling are maintained. All donor milk at the KK Human Milk Bank undergoes heat treatment by the Holder Pasteurisation method at 62.50C for 30 minutes. Published research has shown that all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 virus, can be completely inactivated by pasteurisation.

In line with the recommendations from international organisations such as the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and European Milk Banking Association regarding COVID-19 and donor milk, we are temporarily not recruiting donors with overseas travel history or respiratory illness (fever, cough, sore throat) in the last 28 days including in family members at home.

Existing donors have also been advised to temporarily stop donating, if they are ill or have been in contact with a positive/suspect case for COVID-19.

We will continue to monitor the situation as more information regarding the COVID-19 virus and vaccination become available to ensure safety of pasteurised donor human milk.

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If I have questions about donor milk, who can I contact?

You can speak to the doctor or medical team in charge of your baby.

You may also contact KK Human Milk Bank via:

Phone: 6394 1986
Email: milkbank@kkh.com.sg

Or visit KK Human Milk Bank at:

KK Women’s And Children’s Hospital
100 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 229899
Women’s Tower, Level 2

Operation hours:
Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
8.30am to 5.00pm (Lunch hour: 1.00pm to 2.00pm)

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