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Babies come into the world needing nourishment. For some parents, it’s simply not possible to produce milk. That’s why the University of California Health Milk Bank was created.

The University of California Health Milk Bank was established to help support neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and families in the region and the state. They do this by providing safe, pasteurized human milk that has been donated by breastfeeding or chestfeeding parents.

The University of California Health Milk Bank, operated by UC San Diego Health, is the second in California to be accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. It is the only milk bank in the nation that is part of a health care system.

Collaborating to Improve Patient Outcomes

While California has high rates of breastfeeding, there is a large human milk distribution problem. This has resulted in shortages of pasteurized donor milk for ill or premature infants — both in NICUs and for families at home. The University of California Health Milk Bank is designed to address these shortages so the most fragile newborns across the state have access to human milk.

Pasteurized donor human milk has been used for decades to feed premature infants when their own parents’ milk is not sufficient or cannot be used. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants born weighing less than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds) be given only human milk to help these smallest infants get the nutrition they need to grow and thrive. We embrace the best practices in nutrition for these tiny babies and analyze each batch of milk to ensure that only the highest-calorie and highest-protein milk is sent to NICUs.

UC researchers have long studied the use of human milk to protect against illness and protect vulnerable newborns. UC researchers have recently conducted studies of COVID-19 and human milk. One study suggests that the human milk of parents who have recovered from COVID-19 contains strong antibodies to the virus. Another study demonstrated that the SARS CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is eliminated by pasteurization.

Order Human Milk

Parents and hospitals can order milk through the University of California Health Milk Bank. Potential donors must go through evaluation and testing before being accepted. The milk is also tested and processed using high-quality laboratory practices.

Purchase milk for your newborn or for a hospital

Donate Human Milk

Parents who wish to donate human milk can do so through our secure portal. Through the portal, you can register, access your account, schedule your donation and blood test, and communicate with the University of California Health Milk Bank coordinator.

Become a human milk donor