Why we should do this: what the evidence says

Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora and other relevant parties work with the Human Milk Regulation Working Group to ascertain the status of the supply of and demand (including unmet demand) for donor human milk in New Zealand Aotearoa.

Identify and action initiatives to improve access to donor milk.

There is evidence supporting the use of pasteurised donor human milk for hospitalised preterm or sick infants. A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis found that the introduction of donor human milk increased any breastfeeding on discharge by about 20 percent (Williams et al 2016).

Develop resources to support safe peer-to-peer milk sharing, including pathways to access free screening, support systems and information about safe storage and transportation of donor milk.

Blood testing is part of the medical screening of potential milk donors and should be accessible for those donating and accessing human milk, along with evidence-based information about the risks and benefits (Perrin et al 2018; Gribble 2013).

Where are we now?

  • There are two functioning human milk banks in New Zealand Aotearoa.
  • There is no national regulatory framework for human milk banks, but the two existing milk banks follow international best practice guidelines.
  • There is no food standard for the processing and/or pasteurisation of human milk.

Next steps

  • Implemention the Operational Guidelines for Milk Banks in Australia and New Zealand post document is release in 2020.


Gribble K. 2013. Peer-to-peer milk donors’ and recipients’ experiences and perceptions of donor milk banks. Journal of Obstetric Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. 42(4).

Perrin M, Fogleman A, Davis D, et al. 2018. A pilot study on nutrients, antimicrobial proteins, and bacteria in commerce‐free models for exchanging expressed human milk in the USA. Materal and Child Nutrition. 14(Suppl 6):e12566.

Williams T, Nair H, Simpson J, et al. 2016. Use of donor human milk and maternal breastfeeding rates: A systematic review. Journal of Human Lactation. 32(2): 212–20.