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Information for Potential 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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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 these situations, 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?

  • Preterm babies less than 35 weeks gestation
  • Sick babies (more than 35 weeks gestation) 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 such as congenital heart disease, gastrointestinal disease or brain injury
  • Compassionate indications
    • Infants in whom own mother’s milk is contraindicated due to illness or medications (Eg: maternal HIV, maternal chemotherapy)
    • Infants who don’t have access to own mother’s milk (Eg: adopted babies, deceased mother)

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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?

For hospitalised patients, it is 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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How can I request for PDHM?

Your child must meet one of the eligibility criteria listed above. You need to produce a referral letter, indicating the reason why PDHM is being requested, from your child’s healthcare provider. You can email or call the Milk Bank (see contact details below) if you need further information.

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Is PDHM safe given the current COVID-19 pandemic? / Can my baby get coronavirus from PDHM?

PDHM remains the safest alternative for vulnerable preterm or sick infants with inadequate own mother’s milk. Donors are advised to temporarily stop donating, if they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with a positive/suspect case for COVID-19. Stringent standards of milk handling are maintained and viruses are completely destroyed by the process of heat treatment (pasteurisation). To date, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 transmission due to consumption of PDHM.

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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

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

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

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