Variability of criteria for pasteurized donor human milk use

James I. Hagadorn, Elizabeth A. Brownell, Mary M. Lussier, Margaret G.K. Parker, Victor C. Herson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Use of donor human milk (DHM) is increasing, but criteria for its use are not well defined. Materials and Methods: We conducted a 34-question Internet-based survey of medical directors of U.S. level 3 and level 4 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), with the goal of describing specifics of policies developed to guide DHM use in U.S. NICUs. Respondents reported NICU characteristics and details of policies concerning DHM use. Policy-specified criteria for DHM use, if any, were described. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to identify NICU characteristics associated with DHM use. Results: Respondents returned 153 (33%) surveys, with use of DHM reported by 91 (59%). Donor human milk use was more likely with more than 100 annual admissions <1500 g at birth (odds ratio [OR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-4.7) and with Vermont-Oxford Network participants (OR, 4.6; 95% CI, 1.8-11.6). Among 72 NICUs reporting a written policy, criteria for providing DHM required birth weights varying from <1000 to <1800 g and/or gestational ages from <28 to <34 completed weeks, but criteria were reportedly waived in many circumstances. Policies regarding duration of DHM therapy were similarly varied. Conclusions: Criteria for initiating and continuing DHM vary widely among U.S. level 3 and level 4 NICUs. Donor human milk use is more frequent in NICUs with many very low-birth-weight admissions and among Vermont-Oxford Network participants. Further research is needed to define short- and long-term outcomes and cost benefits of DHM use in subgroups of NICU patients, particularly for uses other than necrotizing enterocolitis prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • donor human milk
  • prematurity
  • very low birth weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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