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Retrospective review of serological testing of potential human milk donors
  1. Ronald S Cohen1,2,
  2. Sean C Xiong2,
  3. Pauline Sakamoto2
  1. 1Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA
  2. 2Mothers' Milk Bank of San José, San José, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ronald S Cohen, Stanford University School of Medicine, Intermediate and Special Care Nurseries, Lucile S. Packard Children's Hospital, 725 Welch Road – mc 5911, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA; rscohen{at}


Objective To estimate the prevalence of positive serology among potential donors to a human milk bank.

Design Retrospective review of our experience with donor serological testing at our milk bank over a 6-year interval.

Setting Not-for-profit, regional human milk bank.

Patients Volunteer, unpaid potential donors of human milk.

Interventions Serological testing for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human T cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and human T cell lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-2).

Main outcome measures Results of serological screening tests performed on potential donors.

Results Of 1091 potential donors, 3.3% were positive on screening serology, including 6 syphilis, 17 hepatitis B, 3 hepatitis C, 6 HTLV and 4 HIV.

Conclusions There is a significant incidence of positive serology among women interested in donating human milk. This implies that there may be significant risk associated with peer-to-peer distribution of human milk from unscreened donors.

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  • Ethics approval The institutional review board of Stanford University approved this study.

  • Patient consent All subjects signed consent for anonymous research approved by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Additional informed consent for this study was waived by the institutional review board at Stanford University.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.