The Health Risks of Breastpump Sharing

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In the past few years, as the price of breastpumps has increased, I have noticed that more of my clients are purchasing or borrowing used pumps. These budget-conscious breastfeeding moms always buy new pump kits. They believe that a brand new milk -collection kit makes the pump just like new. Of course they want to ensure that if they can’t be with their babies to breastfeed, their babies will still have the best—mommy’s milk from new, clean containers. Unfortunately, the pump itself can harbor bacteria and viruses from a previous owner.

Even if you know the previous owner; even if you are related to the previous owner you cannot be sure that your borrowed pump is safe for you and your baby. Your trusted friend may not realize that she is the carrier of a virus that can be transmitted via milk or blood.

Retail breastpumps are considered a personal use device—like a toothbrush–not intended to be shared. With few exceptions, a pump is an open system. That means the motor is not completely separate from the milk. (Rental pumps are closed systems and can be shared safely.) Microscopic droplets of milk or blood can enter the motor. These microscopic particles can contaminate the milk via the tubes that lead from the motor to the collection kit. Even if the mom gets a new collection kit, she is not preventing the possibility of bacterial or viral cross-contamination. The FDA website states, “The money you may save by buying a used pump is not worth the health risks to you or your baby. Breast pumps that are re-used by different mothers can harbor infectious diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis.”

For information about particular breastpumps, contact a lactation consultant in your area.

Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC.  Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington.  She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations.   Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com.

Concerned about the cost of a new  pump? Check out “Are Used Breastpumps a Bargain?

3 Comments to “The Health Risks of Breastpump Sharing”

  1. […] For information related to health concerns of used breastpumps, see “The Health Risks of Pump Sharing.” […]

  2. There are many different types of pumps on the market — manual, single or double electric, hospital-grade — and it is essential that you obtain the most appropriate pump for your situation. Mothers who feel they will only pump occasionally would be fine with a manual pump.

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