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Milk Banking and COVID-19

The KK Human Milk Bank provides an essential service. The milk bank actively monitors ongoing developments regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and how these relate to milk banking.

Breast milk and COVID-19:

The COVID-19 virus is genetically similar to previous coronaviruses such as the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) viruses. Just like these and other flu viruses, it is thought to spread via respiratory droplets which are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Current evidence suggests that transmission to the infant via breast milk is not a likely source of infection.1,2,3

Heat inactivation of the virus:

Studies have documented complete inactivation of the SARS and MERS viruses by heat treatment at 600C for 30 minutes. Published research has shown that COVID-19 is not any different and can be inactivated by Pasteurisation.2 All donor milk at the KK Human Milk Bank undergoes heat treatment by the Holder Pasteurisation method at 62.50C for 30 minutes.

Additional measures at the KK Human Milk Bank:

In addition to the stringent measures for donor screening and milk handling which are already in place, the milk bank continues to follow the recommendations from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America4 (HMBANA) and European Milk Banking Association5 (EMBA):

  1. Donors are required to provide a detailed history regarding overseas travel and recent illness including all family members in the home. Donors are deferred for 28 days in case of significant history.
  2. Existing donors have been advised to inform the milk bank if they have any respiratory symptoms or any contact with COVID-19 cases or suspects. Donations from such donors are temporarily deferred.

Milk donation after COVID-19 vaccination:

There is evidence to suggest that mothers who take the COVID-19 vaccine can transmit protective antibodies against the virus to their infants via bresatfeeding.6 Donors who have received the COVID-19 vaccine can continue to breastfeed their own infants and to donate their excess breastmilk to the milk bank.

We will stay vigilant and ensure that pasteurised donor human milk remains safe and is available for all vulnerable babies.

If you have any concerns, please contact the milk bank via email at milkbank@kkh.com.sg or call 63941986.


References:

  1. Pasteurization Inactivates SARS-CoV-2-Spiked Breast Milk. Conzelmann C, Groß R, Meister TL, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;147(1):e2020031690.

  2. Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 in Breast Milk From 18 Infected Women. Chambers C, Krogstad P, Bertrand K, et al. JAMA. 2020;324(13):1347-1348.

  3. Pregnancy Outcomes in COVID-19: A Prospective Cohort Study in Singapore. Mattar CN, Kalimuddin S, Sadarangani SP, et al. Ann Acad Med Singap 2020; 49:857-69.

  4. Human Milk Banking Association of North America. COVID-19 and milk banking.
    https://www.hmbana.org/file_download/inline/a04ca2a1-b32a-4c2e-9375-44b37270cfbd

  5. European Milk Banking Association, COVID-19 position statement.
    https://europeanmilkbanking.com/covid-19-emba-position-statement/

  6. SARS-CoV-2-Specific Antibodies in Breast Milk After COVID-19 Vaccination of Breastfeeding Women. Perl SH, Uzan-Yulzari A, Klainer H, et al. JAMA. 2021;325(19):2013-2014.