NICE has published new guidance for the country’s 17 main donor breast milk banks to ensure best practice.
The institute said healthcare professionals are still unsure how donated breast milk is handled, processed and stored at the banks to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria or disease being passed on through the milk, according to NICE.
The new guidelines will help milk banks maintain high standards of practice and reinforce the safety of donor breast milk.
The guidance also aims to ensure consistent standards of practice across the country and ensure the safety of donor breast milk.
The guideline is primarily aimed at milk banking staff and midwives, health visitors and neonatologists.
Recommendations include using serological testing to screen all potential breast milk donors for diseases including HIV, hepatitis and syphilis; pasteurising all milk to reduce the risk of any potentially harmful bacteria being passed on; and ensuring all equipment used in milk handling and processing is regularly inspected.
It also recommends that donor breast milk is only supplied to hospitals or neonatal units who agree to comply with the tracking procedures for milk as outlined by the bank. The receiving hospital or neonatal unit should also keep a record of how the milk is used.
Christine Carson, programme director for the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “This new guideline, which has been developed by a range of experts, will help reinforce the message that specialist milk banks operate to the highest safety standards and our recommendations will make sure good practice is consistent across the UK.”