Health Canada reminds Canadians of the risks associated with consuming unprocessed donor human milk

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OTTAWA – Health Canada is aware of reports that Canadians are sharing and purchasing unprocessed human donor breast milk, and would like to remind Canadians of the potential health risks of consuming this milk.

Obtaining human donor milk from the Internet or directly from individuals raises health concerns because, in most cases, the donor’s medical history is unknown and it hasn’t been tested. Human milk is a bodily fluid and can transmit substances, such as prescription and non-prescription drugs, and can be contaminated with viruses, such as HIV. Human milk can also spoil or become contaminated with bacteria or viruses as a result of improper extraction, storage, or handling.

In Canada, milk banks are the only way to access safe donated human milk. There are currently four human milk banks in Canada operating in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. These milk banks abide by strict operating procedures, which include donor screening, medical supervision, bacteriological and viral testing, pasteurization, storage, and distribution.

Health Canada recommends that Canadians consult their health care professional should they have questions about breastfeeding or if they are considering using donor human milk.

For more information on child health and breastfeeding, visit:

Health Canada
613-957-2983

Public enquiries

613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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