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Media Release: Day Care Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Center for Breastfeeding Information
La Leche League International
October 15, 1995

Dear Concerned Day Care Provider and Parent,

La Leche League International (LLLI) appreciates the opportunity to supply information concerning the storage and handling of human milk in out-of-home day care settings. This is an area of intense interest for our organization and one surrounded by misconceptions and misinformation. LLLI is in frequent contact with federal health agencies concerning this issue and is dedicated to providing accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of human milk and breastfeeding.

As of this date, human milk is not (nor has it ever been) included in federal health agencies listings of body fluids governed by universal precautions for bloodborne pathogens which would mandate handling and feeding with rubber gloves or storage in a separate refrigerator as a biohazardous material. This continues to be the current policy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

As to specific guidelines for daycare facilities, I refer you to the 1992 joint publication by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association (with input from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America),

CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN

National Health and Safety Performance Standards:
Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care Programs

This publication recognizes, supports, and promotes the feeding of human milk to infants in day care and places no restrictions beyond regular handwashing and standard refrigeration protocols. The publication thoroughly outlines procedures to prevent the spread of infection, including universal precautions for wounds and body fluids containing visible blood. Human milk is not included in this discussion nor in the list of body fluids of concern.

CARING FOR OUR CHILDREN is available from:

AAP Publications Department
141 Northwest Point Blvd
P.O. Box 927
Elk Grove Village IL 60009-0927
Phone: 800-433-9016 or 708-228-5005
FAX: 708-228-1281

LLLI urges you to consider the following issues as you formulate policies and procedures. Breastfeeding mothers who use child care facilities need to feel confident their infants can continue to receive their unique milk and feel a human touch during feeding times. Labeling human milk as a biohazardous material requiring separate refrigeration attaches an unjustified stigma of a potentially harmful substance in the minds of mothers and day care personnel. Such labeling and storage requirements may also place a financial hardship on day care centers in having to provide a separate, dedicated refrigerator. One positive aspect of separate refrigeration for human milk is that it is less likely to be contaminated from questionable substances in the common refrigerator.

Mothers who are separated from their infants face a great deal of stress under the best of circumstances. The use, storage, and handling of their breast milk in day care settings should not become another burden of concern for them. Breast milk is the best nutrition and health protection for the baby, whether it is delivered directly through nursing at mother's breast or from a bottle by a caring child care provider.

If you have further questions, please contact Betty Crase, Director of the Center for Breastfeeding Information, La Leche League International.

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