Human Milk Sharing, Selling and Donation: Legal and Ethics Angles

Time-frame: 60-90
CERP: yes

Parents have been using each other’s milk since the dawn of time. The 21st century imbues this age-old practice with legal and ethical tensions for the healthcare provider not imagined by our ancestors. Can an IBCLC be the “link” between the parent with too much milk in the freezer, and the low-supply parent whose baby doesn’t qualify to receive milk from a milk bank? How does a healthcare provider (HCP) counsel a family shaken by the birth of an extremely premature baby, and who want to collect expressed milk from friends and neighbors? Can HCPs be sued if they counsel a family about milk donation, and the parent unwittingly passes on a pathogen in that milk that harms the other baby? The Internet offers a worldwide market for human milk sharing. Is that even legal? This session looks at all the risk and liability angles at play here: for the baby, the family, and the healthcare provider.

This session meets requirements for E-CERP approval, for material covering Ethical and Legal Issues, and Public Health and Advocacy, coming under Section VII. Clinical Skills of the IBLCE Detailed Content Outline. At the end of this session, the learner will be able to:

  1. Explain the different rationales for regulating human milk as a tissue, fluid, or food;
  2. Identify one health risk and one ethical concern for the healthcare provider associated with sales of human milk tissue/fluid;
  3. Identify at least three practice-guiding documents for healthcare workers to use when consulting about the use of shared/donated human milk.


Country: USA
Phone number: 215-836-9088
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