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Keywords:

  • breast milk;
  • breast milk bank;
  • pasteurised donated breast milk;
  • premature;
  • preterm;
  • very low birthweight.

Aim:  To find out the knowledge and attitudes of health-care professionals (HCPs) in Australian neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) towards breast milk banking (BMBg) and pasteurised donated breast milk (PDBM).

Methods:  Cross-sectional structured survey of HCPs in all 25 NICUs in Australia.

Results:  Response rate was 43.4% (n= 358 of 825). Participants included nurses and midwives (291, 81.3%) and the remainder were neonatologists and neonatal trainees (67, 18.7%). A variable number of HCPs agreed that PDBM would decrease the risk of necrotising enterocolitis (81%) and allergies (48.9%), 8.4% thought PDBM will carry risk of infections and 78.8% agreed that PDBM is preferable over formula, but only 67.5% thought that establishing breast milk banks (BMBs) are justifiable. Significant differences were found between doctors and nurses/midwives, with 19.4% of doctors compared with 5.8% of nurses/midwives agreed that PDBM carried an increased risk of infection. Although, over 90% of nurses/midwives and 70% of doctors agreed that the donation of breast milk is important, only 71% of nurses/midwives and 52.2% of doctors thought that setting up a BMB was justifiable.

Conclusion:  The opinions about BMBg differ widely between HCPs; however, the majority support the practice. HCPs had different knowledge gaps in regard to BMBg. Nurses/midwives positively view the practice of BMBg more strongly compared with neonatologists.