National Association: Frauenmilchbanken Schweiz
National Guidelines: Guideline for the organisation and operation of a donor milk bank in Switzerland (published October 2020)
Contact: Currently no designated national contact
There are currently 9 donor milk banks operating in Switzerland. They are located in Aarau, Basel, Bern, Chur, Lausanne, Lucerne, Zurich and St Gallen (2). All of them are based in hospitals with neonatal units. There are no privately operated human milk banks. The 9 operating milk banks work independently but are organised in an interest group called Frauenmilkchbanken Schweiz. They share the same values and guideline and they only provide pasteurized and tested donor milk to their patients. After individual research and discussion, all 9 milk banks in Switzerland decided, despite the ongoing pandemic of Sars Covid-19, to follow international recommendations and continue recruiting donors and also continue giving tested and pasteurized donor milk to patients in need such as premature infants with low birthweight and sick babies with special nutritional needs.
Swiss donor milk banks collect the data from each milk bank annually to make comparisons and to create statistics. As was expected, fewer donors were recruited in 2020 and each bank supplied marginally fewer recipients than previously however the numbers were mainly constant. Individual milk banks support each other when they experience higher demand for milk than they can meet.
In 2014 the Swiss donor milk banks administered 1158 litres of donor milk, donated by 94 donors to 458 recipients, the majority of which were preterm infants. Reports exist suggesting the formal use of donor milk dating back to 1909. Milk Banks were sited in various Children’s Hospitals dating back to between 1930 and 1950 with some reports of rudimentary pasteurisation being performed. The Children’s Hospital in Basel used infrared pasteurisation in 1930. During the 70’s there were hospital own guidelines introduced, with basic pasteurisation methods. During the 90’s most hospitals began working with guidelines based on international documented evidence, at this time hospital grade pasteurisation was also introduced in most hospitals. In 2022, the first milk bank in Western Switzerland opened in Lausanne and is a unique collaboration between the Lausanne University Hospital and the Interregional Blood Transfusion (TIR) of the Swiss Red Cross.