Background: Low rates of breast milk donation to milk banks (MBs) limit the supply of donor breast milk (DBM) in NICUs, where preterm/ill infants depend on its many protective properties. A previous study demonstrated that many women with an oversupply of breast milk (OBM) prefer to donate informally “mother-to mother” (IMS), a practice that is discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Neonatologists and primary care pediatricians (PCPs) directly interact with breastfeeding mothers and can encourage them to consider safer breast milk donation practices by donating to MBs. However, little research has examined the practices of these physicians in recommending donation to MBs. Purpose: To study the self-rated knowledge of PCPs and neonatologists on the processes of breast milk donation (MB and IMS) and their habits regarding recommending donation. Methods: An anonymous survey was emailed to 250 AAP-registered PCPs and 250 AAP-registered neonatologists nationwide. Respondents were asked to self-rate their knowledge of the MB and IMS donation processes on 5-point Likert scales (1-Not knowledgeable at all to 5-Extremely knowledgeable) and to rate how often they provide information about MB donation when counseling women with an OBM on a 5-point Likert scale (1-Never to 5-Always). Respondents were further asked if they had ever heard of IMS, followed by demographic questions. Results: A total of 105 responses met the inclusion criteria (21% response rate, n=33 PCPs, n=72 neonatologists) and were analyzed (39.0% male, 74.3% white). Almost half (48.6%, n=51) of physicians stated that they were “extremely knowledgeable” or “knowledgeable” about the MB donation process. Comparatively, only 22.9% (n=24) of physicians were “extremely knowledgeable” or “knowledgeable” about the IMS process, with 17.1% (n=18) reporting that they had never heard of the practice. When counseling women with an OBM, only a third (31.4%, n=33) of physicians provided information about MB donation at least half of the time. Conclusion: Despite the majority of respondents stating that they were knowledgeable about the MB donation process, few reported discussing this process with mothers who had an OBM. Healthcare professionals have unique and important bonds with lactating mothers. By having readily-available information on milk banks and disseminating this to mothers with an OBM, physicians can contribute to increasing the supply of vital DBM in MBs.

Physician Respondents’ Self-Rated Knowledge of the Milk Bank and Informal Donation Processes

Physician Respondents’ Self-Rated Knowledge of the Milk Bank and Informal Donation Processes

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The majority of respondents were very to moderately knowledgeable about the milk bank donation process but only moderately to slightly knowledgeable about the informal donation process.

Physician Respondents’ Self-Rated Frequency of Providing Patients That Have an Oversupply of Breast Milk with Information about Milk Bank Donation

Physician Respondents’ Self-Rated Frequency of Providing Patients That Have an Oversupply of Breast Milk with Information about Milk Bank Donation

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The majority of respondents reported their frequency of providing patients with an oversupply of breast milk with information about milk bank donation as "sometimes" or "never"