Donor human milk for low-birth-weight infants
Every year, more than 20 million infants are born weighing less than 2500 g – over 96% of them in developing countries. These low-birth-weight infants are at increased risk of neonatal morbidity and mortality.
WHO recommends that low-birth-weight infants should be fed mother's own milk. When a mother's own breast milk is not available, the alternatives are either expressed breast milk from a donor mother or formula milk. Available evidence shows that compared with formula, donor human milk is associated with lower incidence of the severe gut disorder “necrotising enterocolitis” and other infections during the initial hospital stay after birth.
WHO recommends that low-birth-weight infants who cannot be fed mother's own milk should be fed donor human milk in settings where safe and affordable milk banking facilities are available or can be set up.
The full set of recommendations are provided within the guidance documents referenced below.