Is there any reason why someone should not donate breastmilk?

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The list below is only meant to be used as a guideline. There may be other reasons why someone should not donate their milk. Recipients, donors or others may have lesser or greater restrictions than those listed here.


Reasons may include but are not restricted to:


  • If they do not want to or if they are feeling coerced,
  • If they are at risk of punishment due to religious or social conventions,
  • If they are having difficulty meeting the needs of their own baby,
  • If doing so would place undue stress on themselves or their family,
  • If they do not meet a recipients criteria/requests,
  • If they suffer severe psychiatric disorder(s),
  • If they are in poor general health,
  • If they are confirmed positive for HIV I, HIV II, HTLV I or HTLV II,1
  • If they or their sexual partner are at risk for HIV,
  • If they have an outbreak of herpes or syphilis lesions,
  • If they have open sores, blisters, and/or bleeding cracks on the skin,
  • If they are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment,
  • If they are receiving radiation treatment or thyroid scan with radioactive iodine,
  • If they are taking medication that is contraindicated while breastfeeding,
  • If they are currently abusing drugs or alcohol,
  • If they are in the fever stage of chicken pox or shingles.

In addition to the above,

  • If they drink, smoke, use certain herbal supplements or take megavitamins and there is a chance that their milk may be fed to a premature or critically ill baby.

Please see ‘Health Considerations’ for an alphabetical list of breastmilk topics.

Next section: ‘Questions typically asked of donors.


  1. The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) excludes donors who have had a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B or C, or Syphilis, whose sexual partner is at risk for HIV, who use illegal drugs, who smoke or uses tobacco products, who have received an organ or tissue transplant or a blood transfusion in the last 12 month, who regularly have more than two ounces or more of alcohol per day, who have been in the United Kingdom for more than 3 months or in Europe for more than 5 years since 1980 and who were born in or has traveled to Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria.The US milk bank guidelines are followed fairly closely by other countries. []

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