Peer-to-Peer Human Milk-Sharing Among Israeli Milk Donors: A Mixed-Methods Study in the Land of Milk and Honey

Ayelet Oreg, Maya Negev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Evidence is lacking on the phenomenon of peer-to-peer human milk-sharing in the Middle East, specifically, in Israel. Research Aims: This study aimed to uncover peer-to-peer human milk-sharing in Israel, learn about how and whether donors engage in safe milk handling and storage practices, and assess knowledge about human milk and breastfeeding among this milk-sharing population. We also aimed to investigate donors’ selectiveness in their decisions about to whom they donate their milk and their perceptions about the sale and purchase of human milk. Methods: We conducted a semi-structured online survey, including both closed- and open-ended questions and used mixed methods to analyze responses descriptively. We used non-probability sampling to obtain a broad sample of human milk donors. Results: Out of 250 completed surveys, most participants (87.2%, n = 218) reported engaging in safe milk-sharing practices and were generally knowledgeable about the health risks associated with milk-sharing. Participant religiosity was associated with somewhat lower hygiene practices (r = −0.15, p ≤.05). Most of the participants (81.7%, n = 190) were against the sale of human milk. Participants generally expressed no preference about the recipient of their milk, with some exceptions. Conclusion: The milk-handling and storage practices of the participants in this study suggest a need to improve knowledge and awareness of safe milk storage temperature and the importance of washing hands before pumping milk, particularly within the religious sector. We propose that guidelines about safe milk-sharing practices be written and adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Health, and communicated through pediatricians, family doctors, nurses in Mother and Child Clinics (In Hebrew: Tipat Halav), and social media.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • breastfeeding
  • donor identity
  • food nutrition improvement
  • health risks
  • informal human milk sharing
  • Israel
  • milk sharing practices
  • peer-to-peer human milk sharing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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